Monday, March 12, 2012

I Am a Fragile Person

My name is Anne and I am a fragile person. It's taken me awhile to admit it, but I've finally come to realize that I'm like an egg with the tiniest of cracks. All it takes these days  is the slightest bump for all my gooey, messy insides to come pouring out.

I guess the first time I realized I was a fragile person was during my pregnancy which is funny because it also began the time in my life when I felt the most powerful. It was a different sort of fragility than I live in now. It was an exciting and hopeful fragility - and it was a hormone-induced one. Even though my husband received his cancer diagnosis only days after we discovered I was pregnant, our life then was much more overrun by baby fever than cancer fear. We had our moments for sure, but unless he told you or mentioned having to go for a chemo treatment, you wouldn't have even known what he was battling.

My fragility now is very different. It is a fragility rooted in loss with forever love as its trunk and many happy memories as its leaves. A true conundrum.

It is a fragility that makes me cry at the emergence of my son's next tooth (his first since his Daddy passed) and respond with biting sarcasm when a friend makes a slight modification to our plans to hang out. 

The messy goo in my cracked egg can pour out at obvious moments (like at the Memorial Service I went to on Saturday) or in the most unexpected time or place (like when I notice the chocolate cupcakes that were my husband's in the cupboard while packing my son's lunch). 

Sometimes it's when I get the mail or when I hear a song or when I see a TV show or watch a movie or drive somewhere we used to go or hear a phrase he used to say or see coverage of the Mets or the Giants. Well, you get the point - it's anytime or anyplace.

It's being told how cool it is that I have a MegaTouch game in my basement or finding out that The Afghan Whigs are reuniting after 13 years. It's going into Tastee Sub and not ordering a half of a #1 or into
Sansone's and wondering who the heck is going to help me finish this pizza. It's tipping the delivery guy a little extra because well, Joe used to be a delivery guy too. It's getting a dollar bill with my change and remembering how in college we stubbornly mailed a $1 bill back and forth and back and forth through campus mail.

It's Boston and Florida, London and Washington DC, LBI and the Poconos and everywhere in between. It's a Ford Bronco or a Corvette or a Scion or a Civic Si. It's any number or bars or restaurants or streets. It's every giggle from my son's mouth and every time he brushes his hair.

I'm a fragile person finding my way through each hour of each day with thousands of reminders that threaten to break me, resulting in that geyser of tears.

I'm a fragile person who finds comfort in knowing other fragile people and in accepting my own reality. I am learning that it's ok to be fragile. In fact, it has made my relationships deeper, my spiritual life more exciting, and has challenged me to relinquish a bit of the control I thought I had over my life. These have all been life changing things.

Now that you know I'm a fragile person, I ask you this favor - be mindful of us cracked eggs roaming around the hustle and bustle of life. We don't come with signs on our forehead about who we are so be kind whenever you can. Be sensitive to those who may not want to hear all the details about your wonderful, amazing husband or the grand vacation you are planning with your children and their families. And, most importantly, if we get bumped and all that gooey messy stuff comes pouring out of our egg, offer a tissue and a shoulder and let us have a good cry. It may be just what we need.


  1. What a remarkable piece of writing. I am serious. The piece resonates so much with me. For my own reasons I am a fragile person as well. Your image of a cracked egg is perfect for me. I work so hard to keep the gooey stuff inside and sometimes the gooey stuff actually holds the crack together. And sometimes the gooey stuff pushes the crack to the limit and it seeps through.
    I have been broken. I have looked at the shards on the ground around me and wondered if I could ever be less than broken.
    As always, thanks for posting this.
    I have not lost my husband or my children to death. Sadly, however, I have lost myself from time to time. And, in those times, I am broken. The rest of the time I walk on eggshells - afraid of breaking again. The eggshells on which I walk? I think they come from earlier times in my life when the egg did break and now they are there to remind me of what can happen.

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comments - I think you added so much more insight to the imagery I used in the post. I have felt at various points in my life like that cracked egg - it has just become so much more obvious over the last two years.

  2. I smile with my mouth and laugh with my voice, which can be deceiving to most people. But if they look into my eyes, that's where they will see my sadness.
    One of the things I have noticed is the anger you and I share. Each of us, has at some point, wanted to shout out at a stranger, "Why are you happy?" "Don't you know that my son/husband has died?" We are upset that life goes on around us. We feel that our life can never ever possibly be normal again.
    I think your point about being mindful of "us cracked eggs" is far more reaching than just you and I though, isn't it? Don't we all have a vulnerable soft spot that can be poked and prodded? But most of those around us wouldn't know because we hide behind our smiles and our laughter. Someone once told me that it takes more strength and courage to show our fragility. It's okay to say "I'm sorry but I am feeling upset and sad right now, can we talk about something else?"
    Yes, it's true, that while you are admitting to being fragile here, you are also showing just how strong of a woman you are. This I know to be true.