a broken thing

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I was sick this morning, so my partner took our son out somewhere.  I was planning on curling up on the couch and eating breakfast while drinking coffee out of a mug that I got in South India back in 1999.

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The mug was made in Auroville, the International Community where I spent more than a year of my life.   I volunteered there, helping stray dogs in the community and within the neighboring villages.  The woman I worked with, Ann from New Zealand, was like a mother to me.  She taught me how to give homeopathic and other natural medicines to the dogs.  We also fed them leftover food from Auroville’s solar kitchen, and I gave the animals love, because Ann was too busy sometimes to do that.  She also gave rabies shots and treated distemper and other diseases.  I worked with her for months at a time, in 1999, then again in 2001 and 2005.

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In 2005, Ann died of colon cancer while I was there in India with her.  It was one of the most intense and depressing experiences of my life.  The world (and the dogs) lost a beautiful, amazing spirit when it lost her.

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I left Auroville (and India) the day after she died, and since then, I’ve only returned to North India.  I have journeyed to New Zealand twice since Ann’s death, to spend time with her mother and meet her sisters.  I’m so thankful to be able to know them all, and one day, I do hope to publish my story of my time with Ann.

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This morning, I knocked over that mug I’ve drank from every morning I’ve spent in America since 1999.  I cried and screamed.  I shattered a plate, because I needed to break something less important to me.  I played out the experience over and over in my head, trying to understand WHY I broke it, WHY it happened, HOW I could glue it back together.

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It’s just a mug, right?  Sure, it was crafted by an artist’s hands, and it was a beautiful mug, but things break in life.  They shatter.  And sometimes we need that catharsis to remind us of the things, the often intangible things, that are REALLY important.  Like the work I did in India with the dogs, and the love I have for Ann, the love I have for her family.  My mug reminded me of that, but the mug wasn’t a dog.  It wasn’t Ann.

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Sometimes, telling the story of an object we lose can be a way to release that object into space.  Let go.  We’ve all broken something, haven’t we?  If you’d like to comment on this post, I invite you to tell me a story of a broken thing, and what it meant to you (or at least, write the stories of your broken things for yourself, it can be therapeutic, I promise).

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