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Repairing What is Broken

It was broken. Into a million pieces. I was looking at the crumbs of a hand painted, antique, Italian, porcelain chandelier with five arms and 63 delicate, hand sculpted flowers. How this happened and why is unimportant. What’s important here is the fix seemed impossible. Truly impossible. “Throw it away and forget about it.” That’s what everyone said.

But you see, I couldn’t. this was the symbol of my mother’s dream. A symbol of her success and her strong will and independence. She purchased this chandelier as a completely impulsive, impractical, middle finger to the world, as if to say, ‘I have earned it. I deserve it. I can have something I really want’ moment. A moment when she was sure it would shine a beautiful light on her life forever. Now it was broken.

I was afraid she would be broken too. You see, my mother had a history of loss that dated back to childhood when her innocence was broken. The pieces never fully repaired. Now, what she wanted most was gone. Her life would shattered and that’s that. She must pick up the pieces and carry them through life in their broken but once beautiful state. I tried to keep the secret.

I went on a multi-day, on-line, international search for a replacement. If I could just find another exactly like it then I could replace it and she would never know. I was determined this would not become another in a long line of failures – a loss to compound all the losses before it. I looked at the delicate pieces piled in a heap on a blanket at the bottom of a large box. Pretty little pinks and blues and greens. I located the store from where it was purchased so many years ago. There was no record of the manufacturer or the make or, well, anything. Dead end. No replacement could be found.

The next step was to fix it. I began sending pictures to porcelain restoration professionals around the country. Most agreed it could be repaired, but at what cost? And time? And it would always be fragile. Was the light fixture really, reaallllllly worth it? Give up.

Then, I found Holly. When I showed Holly the pictures, she didn’t flinch. “Of course,” she said, “it can be fixed. It will take time and it won’t be cheap, though. Expect it to cost as much as it did 30 years ago. But, I can do it. I like a good puzzle.” She smiled.

Recovering from loss and carelessness has a price. Holly began her miracle. Painstakingly, Holly pieced one porcelain crumb to another. It took months. Holly began to call the thing “Elvis” as if piecing together a ghost. She said it felt like she was bringing a legend back to life.

The point of my story is this: Anything can be restored. To bring something back to it’s once bright and shining beauty takes five things: 1. Time, 2. Commitment, 3. Expertise, 4. Money 5. Patience. It doesn’t matter if the thing broken is a person, relationship, or a community. We can throw it all away or we can commit to the process and the price. The alternative is unacceptable. Just like an antique, hand painted, Italian, porcelain chandelier, the things we value can be repaired and restored. Any light can shine again.

Anything can be restored. It takes time, commitment, expertise, money and patience. Any light can shine again.

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