Something Once Broken
Like me, the brooch was once whole, then broken, and then transformed.
It was the day of my son’s Bar Mitzvah and I was beaming with joy. Things were hectic but it was a quiet moment upstairs when my mother gingerly handed me a small box. Inside it was a brooch with a beautiful floral pattern lying on an ivory based background and encased in small but sparkling diamonds.
I gasped, both out of the surprise of the gift and also out of wonder. I had never seen this brooch before. It was so pretty and delicate; so detailed and distinctive. Where was this piece of jewelry from and why had I never seen it before?
Like so much else in my life, the answer was complicated and messy.
When I asked my mother, she replied, “My dear, this is from the broken plate of the engagement of Daddy and I.” It was the custom of my father’s family to break a plate before the wedding and to form a piece of jewelry from a fragment of the plate. Jewelry to be worn during special occasions, to glisten in good times and witness the happy moments of family life. But for my parents, those were few and far between. Everyone comes into marriage with baggage, but my father came with severe scars from a dysfunctional childhood and a very unhealthy relationship with his parents that he could not overcome. He had a good heart and was a kind soul but he was unable to maintain healthy relationships.
I wore the brooch proudly that Shabbat morning as I watched my son read his portion from the Torah. My happy, popular, innocent son who knows of nothing but a warm and functioning home. A home that took me years to build and was constructed slowly and steadily. We built our home of bricks composed of hard work and emotional sweat. Each time I went for help to undo and process the damage of the past more bricks were added. I had to learn to disagree calmly with my husband instead of my preprogrammed default of what I had always seen- either screaming or shutting down. The concrete of our home’s foundation was made from communication and respect and seeing other’s needs.
Breaking the plate could have destroyed it; instead it was used to make something of beauty.
After the Bar Mitzvah, as I carefully placed the brooch in my jewelry box, I thought how suitable that my mother chose to give this gift to me on this occasion. Our celebration had no family drama, no fighting like the milestones of my childhood. There was just an occasion filled with joy.
Like me, the brooch was once whole, then broken, and then transformed. Breaking the plate could have destroyed it, but the jagged and fragmented sides were smoothed and encased to make something of beauty.
I have seen what happens when someone is unable get the help necessary to attain wellness and emotional health. I witnessed my parent’s angry, volatile marriage and committed to not repeat it. Almost two decades ago I married with my head, not just my heart, telling me the man I was dating was a good, hardworking person with wonderful character traits. He did not sweep me off my feet; I was too jaded to ‘fall’ in love. He did not match certain ideas I had preset in my mind. Yet, I saw clearly that he was intelligent and kind and caring. These traits proved crucial as he was patient enough to boost me up when I was lifting those heavy bricks of development.
Sure, we have our times and our stresses and marriage is a constant experience in growth. But nothing can rock a home with a solid foundation. A home that is constantly adding bricks of growth and is paved with love does not fall with the winds of time, pressures and challenges.
I now wear this brooch during all major milestones. It reminds me of how blessed I am and of the achievements I’ve been able to reach. The brooch reminds me that something once broken can emerge and shine with unique beauty.