As I was fixing my breakfast this morning, I placed my hands on the counter only to quickly draw them back as I felt a pinpoint of pain in both palms. I had placed my hands on tiny shards of glass. Yesterday, my kitten, Pancake, knocked a container of coconut oil off the fridge which hit a drinking glass on the counter. Although I thought all the glass had been cleaned up, I was mistaken and now both my palms are reminding me that I am not puncture-proof.
It’s funny how one event can lead to a train of thoughts about other events. As I drove to work I wondered if I had gotten all the glass picked out of my palms which led me to remember an incident that happened long ago, when I was in the first grade. I remember that my foot swelled up due to a piece of embedded glass and I had to miss school while my mother tried to remove the glass from my foot. It was an all day feat. The glass was really in there and she had to “dig” it out with a needle; she did a lot of squeezing, too. I did a lot of flinching and feeling afraid. I guess we were too poor to go to a doctor at that time. She did a good job sterilizing everything and I survived. Albeit, I did limp for a few days afterward. I suppose that in a way I had a bit of an aversion to glass around my feet after that.
Remembering how my mom took that glass out of my foot led to another memory which had nothing to do with glass but everything to do with my parents and the sacrifices they often made for my siblings and me. I wasn’t sick very much as a child but once when I was five years old I woke up with an outrageous fever and severe headache, so severe that I was sick to my stomach from it. My mom couldn’t drive so my dad missed a day of work to take me to a doctor. We sat in that office all morning and they kept calling in other people ahead of us until I puked all over the waiting room. There’s something about a kid puking all over the place that convinces adults they are really sick and I really was. So, I immediately got called in after that. My point is that my dad couldn’t afford to miss a day of work. We barely survived on his check but he did it, believing that somehow the bills would still get paid and there would still be food on our table. My dad only meant to do the right thing that day but he taught me a lesson that I am only just now recognizing. He didn’t do it consciously, of course. But he demonstrated to me that faith works by love. Just having my father beside me made things better. I was still sick but when my dad was with me I was unafraid. I knew everything would be all right. He said it would and his word was good enough for me.
When I was a little girl with glass embedded in my foot I never imagined that one day I’d grow up and willingly walk on shattered glass. My childhood trauma seemed far behind me when propelled by friends who believed in me, people I had grown to love, I pulled off my shoes and walked on a bed of broken glass for the first time. They believed in me so I believed in me. Faith does work by love and love casts out all fear. Where there is love, there is faith and where there is faith, fear cannot stay.
I also never imagined that one day I’d be missing work to take my daddy to the doctor and sit with him all day like he did for me. If I could redo just one thing in my life I’d tell my parents how much I appreciate all that they did for me, but there are few redos in this life. There are, however, opportunities to pay it forward, to do some small thing in the life of another. In one of my novels, a character says, “We honor the dead by the way we treat the living.” It’s no accident that the character says that because that is my heart. How do we honor our ancestors? By making the world a better place for our descendants; at least that’s the way I feel about it.
So, now I’m looking at my punctured hands and I feel grateful for the glass that was broken and for the lesson it helped me to remember. Well, okay, I’m also glad that the wounds are tiny and that they will heal quickly. One final note, I do not recommend glass walking as a way to overcome a childhood fear unless you’ve been trained.