I was at the funeral of a friend yesterday. He’d died unexpectedly at the age of 67.
As it turned out, the day of the funeral was the day of my 66th birthday.
A funeral isn’t the usual expected place to be on a birthday, nor is it where you would expect to receive an unexpected birthday present. But that is exactly what happened to me yesterday, at my friend Bill’s funeral. It was a gift given to me by Bill’s grieving wife, Deb, in words that she spoke in celebration of her husband’s life.
Deb spoke about the ancient Japanese art and philosophy of Kintsugi. Kintsugi is about celebrating imperfection; not trying to hide what is broken but recognising the place of mending as a thing of beauty in its own right, and highlighting the mend with gold. She referred to her husband as ‘pure gold’. He was. As was her gift to me in what she said, using words and with passion that I cannot even begin to emulate, nor do I think that I should even try. They were words that could only be spoken by a wife, grieving the loss of the love of her life.
I do, however, want to acknowledge those words in this post, feeling broken as I continue to feel inside as I continue to hope and try to heal. I realise now that I don’t have to aim to heal back to how I was before I was broken; that the broken parts and the process of healing – that includes reaching out to others who are also struggling – are the pure gold of life. So I’ll continue to live it in the best way that I can, cracks and all.
As it turns out, I’ve been making some pots recently that are basically balls of solid clay that may well fall apart in the kiln. I now hope that they do – so that I can mend them in the Kintsugi way. Amazingly enough, I also got another birthday present yesterday – from another friend. It was a Kintsugi kit! How weird and wonderful is that?
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