Updated: Oct 14
There was a vase that sat on a high shelf in your sitting room. In intricate patterns, the overlapping colors create shapes that reminded your daughter of water. For it was both formed and formless.
It is expensive, one of the few pieces of luxury you’ve ever owned. So your daughter knew only you dusted it when doing her weekly chores. And your daughter knew to never rough house in the sitting room, where it rested on its perch. It paid its price by sitting alone on its predella, overlooking the various trifles. The detritus of your life has a pecking order, and this vase is the highest of the hierarchies.
You looked at it fondly, anticipated when guests’ eyes were drawn to its position and particular beauty. You would often retell the story of how you came to own it with exuberance. You’d speak of world travel and appreciation for other cultures. You’d expertly avoid giving its exact price, instead, you’d mention how priceless it was to you.
And this story is really about you. What owning it felt like to you and more importantly, what owning it said about you.
When your loved ones brought you flowers, you’d pull out the simple glass vase under the kitchen sink. You never had to say it, but your daughter knew the vase on the shelf was for appreciation and display, not for use. It did not feel full with the life of water and blooms, it remained empty. A vessel with nothing to fill it.
When you died, your daughter inherited the vase. Kept it safely and delicately packed in a box for years, as it was too painful to look at. When she was finally ready to sort through what had been left behind, she intended to place it on its own high shelf as you once did. But instead, it ended up on a bookshelf beside many other items. Yet she still could not bring herself to use it.
Her friend’s eyes are drawn to it proclaiming if they had a vase so beautiful, they would fill it with flowers weekly and set it on their dining table. Letting it be the centerpiece of their family dinners. The notion feels so felicitous to your daughter that she immediately gives it to her friend.
A few months afterward, when your daughter visits her friend, she sits at that dining table along with many other friends and sees the vase bursting with colors both inside and out. Unexpectedly it looked even more beautiful with the vibrancy of each petal.
The group of friends talk and laugh and eat around the focal point, admired for its beauty ever so briefly, before that friend tells them it was your daughter’s generosity that made it possible. Your daughters’ eyes are damp. The vase, she now recognizes but always knew, was meant to be part of. Not set apart.
The friend continues to adhere closely to her original proclamation. And your daughter continues to be grateful for it.