Like so much of the world we know, I am neither good nor bad. I am a mosaic of shattered glass reflecting hues and shades of every color, begging to be noticed in aching detail. I break in silence but with ferocity. Shards of glass are ground into dust, shattering over and over again until I am entirely unrecognizable, a pile of ash where my passions once lived.
In the midst of it all, I am sifting through the ruins, reckless and desperate and grasping for anything. It is not until the blood is smeared across my hands that my skin begins to burn. Only then do I notice the cuts, pink inflamed trails crossing and marring my porcelain skin. With a sheen of cold sweat covering me and a wave of nausea comes a crushing realization: It can never go back. Dust can not be turned back to glass. Scars can not be erased. Any concept of “before” begins to dissolve in front of me and becomes a memory slipping through my fingers.
I am a mosaic of every moment I have ever lived through. A curated collection of memory fragments and beliefs held tightly to my chest. If you look closely you will find millions of tiny hairline fractures, breaks in one place that crawled across glass and led to another. Housed in every shard is me. It is me crying out with enthusiasm, yapping in excitement. It is every moment of injustice, both those when I spoke out, and those when my own silence rang in my ears. It is my face flushed, ears burning with shame when I returned stolen candy. It is the smirk on my lips when I am skeptical. It is my own violently trembling hands, clenched together until my skin turns hot white, nails digging in to the softest part of my palms. It is every phone call with my voice cracking, choking, sputtering hot tears covering my face. It is each night crumpled on the kitchen floor, cheeks pressed to dirty tiles, begging for the pain to end. Somehow it is also humming along to every sun-spotted car ride, every icy plunge into the massive Atlantic. Every term of endearment I have ever been called, every time a friend leans on me with laughter, every new melody that ignites me. Somehow it is both. And everything in between.
And then it occurs to me. The truth is you can not turn dust back to glass. But with care and precision you can create something vital with it. Dust becomes the glue holding the entire mosaic together, cemented within and between every shard of glass. Only with the cement can the pile of broken pieces create a vase capable of holding and reflecting every vivid color of sunlight that streams through it.
I am a mosaic of shattered glass. There is no romance in the unfinished edges, they but are perfect because they are mine. No matter the doubts and every reason not to, there I live, right next to the window, capturing sunlight and splashing beams across the walls not in spite of my fractures but because of them. Because every individual crack turned to shatter filters and manipulates the light coming through it, creating color and texture that otherwise could not exist.
Then just as before, a realization sweeps over me, both calming and exhilarating at the same time: it can never go back. The glass can not un-break. There can never be a before again. But there can be an after. This is the beginning of after.