We’re breaking.

—You’ve been on us for hours! What are you doing?

—Nothing. Just getting ready.

—Nothing!? You’re breaking us for nothing?

—Not nothing. Mom’s birthday.

—Ohhh, our aching bones. And those knees… before long, they’ll collapse on us!

—Just a little longer. I’m almost done … mom’s feet would never have complained…

—What was that?

—I said “Just a little longer.”

—No, after that. And don’t say not nothing. We heard something.

—Mom would never have complained! Do you know how many hours she stood in her kitchen rolling cookies, creaming corn, whipping divinity, stirring pralines and beans and oatmeal and pudding… And don’t tell me Plantar Fasciitis and bad knees! She had those, too!

—All right, all right… Not a competition, but we’re aching for a break. This is hard.

—Soon, later tonight. When I’m done… And you’re not wrong. This is hard. She did a lot of hard things for us.

We’re all broken.

—Who are all these people?

—Friends, some family. Her community.

—And they all showed up for her? Even though she’s broken, can’t talk, can’t walk? She can’t even stand up.

—Sure. Of course they showed up. Even though…

—… she’s broken.

—We’re all broken. Walker there, grieving mother, that one, literally broke his back. Broken, but when we show up for each other, when we come together, we feel less so, more whole.

—So all the broken pieces together feel whole? Almost?

—Yeah. Look at her. She’s smiling. She knows.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserves. 2022