Broken Glass

The day my mother died, everything felt fragile, like glass. I woke up the next morning not sure who would still be alive.

It was January, and when we walked daily to the nearby monastery, packed snow on the road cracked beneath our boots. The trees, encapsulated in ice, looked as if they might shatter. Snow crystals stood upright in the surrounding fields and flashed like razor blades in the sun.

It was a violent new world and a precious one. It was all beautiful, and it was all under siege.

This morning, Nov. 9, reminds me of those fragile days. Was it a nightmare? The sun still rises, some say today. But for my family, in our grief, mornings were the hardest. Because the sun confirmed the nightmare had been no dream.

The proverbial glass ceiling remains in tact, the iridescent confetti-stuffed cannons at Clinton’s election night party remain unfired. And yet I still feel assaulted by falling shards of a broken something.

“The sky is falling!” is Chicken Little’s sensational lament when she mistakenly believes the world is coming to an end. She is wrong. The world goes on. But it is a world – as depicted in the 1943 animated short, intended to discredit Nazism – in which a dishonest fox preys on the weak to incite mass hysteria.

Coincidentally and hopefully not foreshadowingly, today is the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, the violence that marked the beginning of the Holocaust. As I tried to sleep last night, some of the visions haunting me were the scenes my imagination had conjured in elementary school as I read novels with Jewish protagonists set during World War II.

I remember that growing up in the prosperous ‘90s, I believed we were living in a post-war post-history. Until 9/11. Under Obama, I was beginning to believe again in a kind of post-history, to believe that life was getting better for all kinds of people, that the arc of history bent toward justice, and (or at least) toward exposing injustice. Yesterday, as I thought about the import of the day, the day I believed we would elect our first female president, every few minutes tears would well up in my eyes, like the waves of a rising tide.

Today those waters are frozen. It is unseasonably warm, but I feel naked and cold and easily shattered. I can only imagine how minorities, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, and people with disabilities must feel.

3 thoughts on “Broken Glass

  1. Johanna, Strange as it sounds to say, you have captured beautifully the overlapping pain and emotion of two very different, life transforming experiences.   Thank you- and much love, MA M-A TARTT INTERIORS 4029 Benton St. NWWashington, DC 20007 202-510-3594

    From: della and george To: matartt@yahoo.com Sent: Wednesday, November 9, 2016 4:09 PM Subject: [New post] Broken Glass #yiv1017836893 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv1017836893 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv1017836893 a.yiv1017836893primaryactionlink:link, #yiv1017836893 a.yiv1017836893primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv1017836893 a.yiv1017836893primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv1017836893 a.yiv1017836893primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv1017836893 WordPress.com | squinks posted: “The day my mother died, everything felt fragile, like glass. I woke up the next morning not sure who would still be alive.It was January, and when we walked daily to the nearby monastery, packed snow on the road cracked beneath our boots. The trees, enc” | |

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