When one of my children was about two, he would take a bite of a pretzel or plunge a tiny straw through the silver sliver sealing a juice box’s top.
Instantly, his face would dissolve from anticipation into abject disappointment. He’d hold out the offending half-pretzel or opened box and utter one wounded word.
Mercifully, this phase did not last long.
The eponymous lawyer in Better Call Saul is sickened when a scarlet-lipped woman begins casually snapping bread sticks. Hours earlier he had seen a man’s legs being shattered as the man lay screaming atop desert sand tinted by a blood orange sun.
On her elder brother’s sixth birthday, one of my daughters fell only a short distance, from a bench. She broke her arm clean through in two places.
Yet within six weeks the bone had reconstituted itself. I gaped at the follow-up x-ray of the arm that had dangled so grotesquely I can see it still. Good as new.
“How can that be?”
“It’s a green stick injury,” the orthopedic surgeon said. I winced. “Like a tree branch. You can snap it, but if it’s young enough–green–it will grow back and you’ll never know it was broken.”
One can restore, to varying degrees, what’s been broken. Sometimes we can only improvise and, as best we can, restore a semblance of what was.
For my first birthday after my husband had died, family and friends indulged me in a pirate party. (Good people are deeply solicitous of the bereaved.) One of my daughters even meticulously decorated me with hand-painted tattoos of sailing ships, and a Kraken guarding gold treasure.
My friend Kristen gave me a lovely lithograph of a weighty willow, its crescent of densely laden branches arching overhead to sweep the ground.
“Bowed, but not broken,” read the title, in gray-green cursive lettering.
Some people give the appearance of gliding through life. Many have endured things which would break most bodies and souls, yet find the strength to come out into the light.
The news seems in relatively equal measure to feature politics and features about wealthy quasi-celebrities, angst-ridden and exhausted from the “pressure”; words (known back in the day as “column inches”) are expended describing their questionable sartorial choices, dalliances, substance abuse, and less-than-taxing yet unfulfilled probationary conditions. Boo hoo.
We may require the break to identify what lies within.