Friday, December 03, 2010

Splinters and shards

I've been thinking about where you carry those you've loved and lost.

It might be in your heart, or your mind. It's somewhere in your corporal being, of that I'm certain.

When I was eight or nine, we visited Maude's family in Tunisia. And I stepped on a piece of green glass.

More notable from the trip were the following events: their maid took Maude and me into the bathroom and lit a cigarette and tried to teach us to smoke. And across the street archeologists had uncovered all these amazing Roman mosaics. The dig was enormous.

But the glass.

It was small, and got stuck in my right heel like a splinter, and worked its way under the skin. You could see it, but you couldn't get to it. So I limped around for a while.

Eventually, it stopped hurting. There's no scar, no evidence that it was ever there. But it is.

And I think this happens with the important people in our lives. We're left with more than scars.

Someone like a parent, well, they're everywhere in your cells. I think, even gone, they permeate your entire being.

You don't have a piece of them. You have all of them. If that makes any sense. I find this comforting and overwhelming, depending on the moment.

As for others, ex-friends and ex-lovers, I wonder if we don't carry them as splinters, as shards?

Relationships end, and we cleanse. Through tears, through actions. We delete phone numbers, emails, pictures. We get rid of reminders.

Slowly, slowly, we heal.

But healing isn't erasure. Each relationship changes us, and some bit, however large or small, remains.

I think our minds, hearts, and souls wrap the jagged fragment in protective tissue, tucking it away and tumbling it until it's smooth and opaque as wave-worn glass. And with time and familiarity - because eventually, doesn't everything become familiar? - the piece is such a part of us, it seems like it's gone.

But I don't believe it is. I believe we walk around decorated with invisible splinters and shards.


  1. That's so true. I often feel that way. No matter how many e-mails I send to the trash bin, I can never really forget what they said.

  2. Miss Dallas - Yes. Things might get fuzzy, but they don't disappear.

    Hillary - Oh, you are so right. The cologne is a punch in the gut. It's extraordinary how powerful.

  3. Sadly, some of them aren't so invisible at all, though we wish they were.

  4. This is absolutely my favorite thing I have ever read of yours. Lovely.

  5. It would be nice to think that every mark made in an indelible one, but somewhere - even if it's faded to the point of being invisible, it's still there.

    And then there are those marks that are as visible as tattoos or those penned with the blackest Sharpie. Those seem destined to remain on permanent display.

    Good post. Well said.

  6. I think that's one reason why those who have experienced love and loss tend to sparkle with such pretty colors, and such numerous facets.

    It makes one more rainbow-y. Which is a good thing, I think.

  7. I will consider this and re-read this post, because it created a calmness in my mind and heart. As someone going through a difficult loss right now, it's hard to know what I will be left with when it is over. I agree, we carry great loves with us in our heart and mind.

  8. Oh, Lisa. I love this so much.

    I recently "lost" a friend. I am not quite sure why this person disappeared from my life, but I have my suspicions. It is like a gaping wound. I push it down and down and try to ignore it but sometimes it sneaks up on my when I least expect it.

    He will always be a part of me, I know it. I just hope it doesn't hurt as much.

  9. oh my. i agree. and i think this should be published somewhere. beautifully written.

  10. I agree wholeheartedly. I need to remind myself that everyone is carrying something, someone around with them, though it's not always visible.

  11. There is a poen entitled Separation, written by W.S. Merwin. I've loved it since my literature class in college 23 years ago. It goes like this: Your absence has gone through me Like thread through a needle Everything I do is stiched with its color.

    I didn't realize how true that poem was until I lost my Mom and my brother.

    (Hey Lisa, I put my comment as "anonymous," but it's from me---Connie Jordan Register. I don't have any "profile.")

  12. Shrapnel remnants of a life lived fully. :-)

  13. Extraordinarily apt and well said. And I agree completely about your description of parents. When I open my mouth, I hear my mother's voice and am often aware of looking out through my father's eyes. That's nothing you can rid yourself of, it's completely pervasive.

  14. Dana - Yes, that's true.

    i'mgonnabreakyourheart - Thank you very much. I appreciate that.

    freckledk - So many stages, and so many degrees. And some fade faster than others.

    Jessica - I LOVE this idea. And I think it's true - those who have lived (and lost) more sparkle more.

    HKW - I'm glad it made you calm, my lovely friend. Wishing you strength in such a hard time.

    lexa - It is so terrible to lose a friend. It took me years and years to recover from a friend who dumped me. I still think about her once in a while.

    brookem - Thank you for the lovely words.

    Lynn - I forget that about people. I think about what it does to me, but I often forget that everyone has got some.

    Connie - This made me cry. It's lovely.

    Stevie - Yes, very good observation. You can avoid them only if you avoid really living.

    amanda - Thank you. Yes, we're made up of them, and there's no escaping it, even if we try.

  15. Really, really love this post. So true. Thank you.

  16. I like this concept... I really do. To take a few steps further, I wonder how many older versions of ourselves we carry around with us, where we carry them, and how we let them affect us? hmmm...

  17. Ah, so true. So beautifully written. So apt for me to remember right now! xxxx

  18. Lisa, that is so very true. An excellent post - I think it's my favorite.

  19. I couldn't agree more. It might be over, but it's not disappeared... maybe because you're not the same person as before that someone was in your life...

    Thanks for this post!

  20. Brilliant metaphor, beautifully written Lisa.

  21. I love love love the way you have written this. It captures exactly what most of us feel but have trouble expressing. Thank you for putting my feelings into words.

  22. This post reminded me of the 'brick' monologue from the play Rabbit Hole (now a feature film starring Nicole Kidman), which addresses the aftermath of a profound loss. I thought you might appreciate it, so I've enclosed a link to the relevant scene:

  23. Oh my goodness. Yes. You took my breath away with this one.

  24. I had a piece of glass stuck in my foot for years because I was too afraid to have it taken out. Parallel noted.

  25. Oh, this. Sometimes also we carry them like precious things, sometimes in secret, sometimes fiercely.


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