Written by: Josh Armstrong
Wednesday October 11, 2017

I have had many opportunities to travel to various places around the world. When traveling to these locations, I bought my maternal grandmother gifts. Upon returning to the United States, I gave these various presents to her.

While a college student in Great Britain, I returned home at Christmas and brought my grandmother a Wedgewood plate that I had purchased from a high-end retail store in London. I soon returned to Great Britain. A few months later, my grandma, along with my brother and sister, visited me. As we toured London, I saw my grandmother purchase another Wedgewood plate just like the one I had given her the previous Christmas. I later discovered that she had accidentally broken the original plate while vacuuming at her home. She was trying to replace the plate without me knowing.

I also discovered that she had saved all the pieces to the broken plate. So, prior to the following Christmas, and without my grandmother’s knowledge, I was able to obtain all the pieces. I glued them all together, wrapped them up, and gave the original plate to my grandmother a second time as a Christmas present. When she unwrapped the plate on Christmas morning, she examined it closely and realized that it was the plate she had broken. She looked at me, and I smiled. We both began to laugh. My grandma placed that once-broken plate, now pieced together again, in her china cabinet. It remained in her china cabinet for almost 30 years, until her death in 2012.

The plate is now a treasured keepsake for me. When I see the plate, it reminds me of my grandmother and the special relationship I had with her. But the plate has additional significance for me as well. The plate, which still shows evidence of having been broken, reminds me that our lives will always show evidence of the brokenness, deep pain, and hurt we experience at the death of those we love. Yet I am also reminded that, over time, the broken pieces of our lives can be mended—through various ways and many different people—so that our lives can be made whole again.

—Kevin Wilson, Chaplain (Mount Airy Office)

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Tags: Grief Support