Embracing Broken

I spent the weekend with a bunch of losers. That sounds rude, I know… but I mean it affectionately – not as a state of being, but as people who have lost. Each of us has lost a child to cancer and we gathered to help each other move forward in our grief. To be honest, I was working. (Hopefully the boss won’t dock my pay because as it turned out, I received more than whatever work I put in.)

As a preface, I need to let you know that I’m broken.

Maybe I should say it like I’m in a group session: Hi, my name is Mark… I’m Broken.

I can’t be fixed, mended or stitched together. I’m broken beyond the saving power of even duct tape. Yes, I’m that far gone.

I am Shattered.

I am Torn… Ripped… Halved… Crocked.

Broken.

But you know what I discovered? I don’t really mind being broken, and I don’t mind admitting it.

You see, I figured out that I was broken long before Kylie’s death. I only thought that event carelessly pushed me off the shelf – but for fifty years I have deluded myself into thinking I was whole. I am not. I’m broken and I was broken the whole time.

The other thing I now realize is that this world is chock-full of broken people. In fact, I would be surprised if there is one to be found in a proper state of repair. The friends I met this weekend have endured the tragedy of losing a child, but others are wounded by emotional or physical pain. Many have endured abuse, but not everyone is broken from such trauma – some might just feel different, odd, or left out.

This world seems to possess more things that shatter than mend.

Before we realize our brokenness, we delude ourselves into thinking we are whole by smearing makeup to cover what we hope others won’t see. We angle the mirror, hide our cracks, turn our flaws away from the blinding flash of the camera that seeks to expose. But deep down, we’re all broken.broken-549087_1280

I like being around other people who know and admit they are broken. In fact, I prefer their company to those who think themselves whole. Oh, we don’t have an actual club that meets or pay membership dues. We don’t wear signs, we broken folk. Authenticity can be spotted and brings brokenness to the surface. Once the veil of perfection drops, brokenness becomes attractive in its own way.

Flaws add character.

So take your clean-scrubbed, white-washed, Insta-perfect life and enjoy it. I can’t keep up with you. I’ll hang out with the messy, leftover, jagged-edge shards who have stopped trying to keep it all together. Those are my people.

Look for the guy who resembles a beat up, tri-colored, Bond-o smeared clunker whose muffler is held on by bungee cords and Band-aids. That’s me… bald tires, dents, rattles, leaking fluids and belching smoke. I might never get to my destination, but it will be one helluva ride…

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Hi, My Name Is Mark…

and I’m broken…

*photo credit to Clark under the CCI (Photos by Clark on Flickr)

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In Memoriam.

I went to a funeral yesterday to mourn the loss of a father taken too soon. Instead, we celebrated his life. His beautiful 22-year-old daughter gave the most brilliant eulogy I have ever heard. Sad, yet hopeful. Honest about the pain but somehow joyful in the midst of it.
Michael, you will be missed… But you will never be forgotten.

Madison C. Garrett

He built the most amazing sandcastles.

I don’t know how he did it.

We spent our childhood summer days on the beach coated in sand from head to toe, carrying bright yellow plastic shovels and green falling-apart buckets, the same ones we used to wrangle jellyfish with nets on inner tubes. We built giant sand crabs with tunnels underneath all the different legs, giant octopuses and sharks that Mitchell would pretend were eating him, and even giant flip flops to make my mom smile.

But the sandcastles!!!

They were masterpieces: medieval mansions with the tallest shell-topped towers, volcanos with lava drizzled all over the sides, and even a Greek temple, including, of course, a history lesson on Zeus and Greek mythology, since nothing happened in the Garrett family that couldn’t be considered educational. My dad called himself a “student of life” and he adeptly passed that love of learning on…

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