My marriage was like a porcelain teapot that was given as a thoughtful gift.
Intended to be purposeful and meaningful and beautiful, and it was all of those things throughout the years.
Sometimes we survived on tea, sometimes one or the other wouldn't crave it as we had before, occasionally it was forgotten about entirely. The teapot was always pretty though, and always useful even if it wasn't being used as originally intended.
And through the years, bumps and clinks from the dishwasher or clumsy hands would chip the spout just a little or the edge of the lid enough so it fit unevenly. That was fine -- affords the teapot character actually, and history. It adds another layer of sentimentality.
I was sad when the handle broke off and I tried to glue it back on. But the break wasn't a clean one so I turned that side to the wall and tried to ignore it.
The teapot still worked, you just had to be careful in case the glue didn't hold. It was pretty though, and had all that history. Everyone still admired it, imperfections and all.
It suffered a short drop last summer and the spout cracked off, evenly enough to glue back together but no longer functional for holding tea. All that history though. All those memories of comfort. All of the good stuff it had made. I couldn't bear to part with it -- it was beautiful. It had worked hard through the years. It deserved to be mended and displayed again, not everything has to work as intended. It was fine.
And then came the crash. The teapot fell off of a shelf, obviously because it was a little wobbly in its shoddily repaired state...a long, hard drop onto a tiled floor. The shatter was loud, in a room full of people, strangers and friends who were startled by its sudden tipping. They stifled their gasps politely and then either avoided my gaze or gingerly offered to help sweep up the pieces, while I tilted my chin up and tried not to cry.
It's fine, I promised, it was already a little broken anyway. I will tidy this right up, go about your business.
I looked again then and realized that it wasn't even a teapot. It was just pieces of something that once was, and it couldn't hold the tea or sit on a shelf or even accurately represent the memory of what it used to be anymore. It would bring me more peace to part with the pieces than to face the pile, and that was the only way I might be able to remember the pretty teapot with fondness for all it had been instead of regret for what it could no longer do.
Sometimes you have to let go of something in order for it to be honored and remembered in the way that it deserves, even if the sweeping up is difficult.