In addition to a few things from Grandfather's house, I had finally brought home the china my mother has given me. It was her pattern, bought every week from the local grocery store when she was first married.
It took me about two hours to handwash everything. Let's stop for a moment and be grateful for dishwashers and the fact that so many things are dishwasher safe.
Washing the china was a weird experience for me. I was aware of the impermanence of life. Grandma and Grandfather are gone. Dad is gone. Someday Mom will be gone. I will be gone. This china can easily shatter. Suffering comes from wanting to hold on, to keep everything the same.
"I had a vision about the world when I was there. It came to me one night as if a little door opened and I looked through and eavesdropped on the truth. I saw that the world was constantly falling apart, it was always in a state of little things always falling apart, and then there were these brigades of individual human angels, with kind eyes, apples and stitches, repairing, fixing, mending, patting, bandaging the wounds of the world, and putting it back together, piece by tiny piece." Alicia PaulsonIn the midst of thinking about impermanence, I was also thinking about its opposite. This china may still be here even after I'm gone. There's a solidity to it, even in the midst of its fragility. Those little things-- the china, the mug with a cat on it, the die-cast tractor, the tiny Christmas stocking my grandmother knit--they are still here even when the people I love are gone. Somehow, they make me feel like I'm still holding a piece of them, and it makes grief a bit easier.
Life is inherently paradoxical. It's messy and filled with things that don't make sense together but are true anyway. I wish it weren't so, but it is. Life is impermanence, and that's the only permanent thing there is.