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Broken pieces: Reflections on the earthquake’s impact

  • Author: Renee Romsland
    | Opinion
  • Updated: December 11, 2018
  • Published December 11, 2018

Judith Mahi's kitchen in Eagle River is covered with broken dishes and glassware, on Saturday morning, Dec. 1, 2018. Her house was badly damaged during a strong earthquake that shook southcentral Alaska on Friday. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

It’s been a little more than a week since the earth shook so violently here in Southcentral. Things are settling back into a new normal. The aftershocks are becoming less dramatic, both in frequency and magnitude. Most businesses are open again after a week of cleanup and repair. Kids are preparing to return to school after a week away. Life moves on as it always does and we adjust.

I was lucky. Compared to so many, I really didn’t have much damage or loss. I had stuff empty out of cabinets, which made a mess, but I cleaned it up singlehandedly within an hour (literally, as I had surgery on a broken hand Tuesday before the earthquake). The only casualty was a ceramic rooster that has been with me for more than 20 years. He took a tumble off the top of my fridge and suffered for it. But he’s salvageable. At the moment, he’s sitting on my kitchen counter, his ceramic painted eyes staring across the room at me; in them, I see a sort of wisdom reflected back at me.

His brokenness is a lesson of sorts. In a society that places so much emphasis on perfection, many would wonder why I don’t just toss him and buy something to replace him. But to me, he’s irreplaceable, and now he’s one of a kind. I can look at his damage in two ways: I can mourn his lack of perfection and feel nothing but sorrow in the loss of his pre-earthquake glory, or I can embrace the imperfect nature of his brokenness. Those pieces will never go back together the same way. And so, in essence, something new yet equally beautiful will be created. A metamorphosis of sorts for my Roo.

And in reality, we are all a bit broken. Life has given us scars, bruises and damage that can’t be seen from the outside. We’re shaped and molded by the hard knocks we take. But we patch ourselves up and move on, slightly different versions than what we were. I heard a saying once that the spaces and gaps between our broken pieces are what let the light in and the love out. It makes sense to me. And so that’s how I’ll treat my Roo, an inanimate object that reminds me daily to let the light in and the love out. My broken bird will forever have a hell of a story and a beautiful legacy born from an earthquake.

Renee Romsland lives in Eagle River.

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