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Porcelain Elephants

Grace In The Hour Of Grief

By D.S. FisichellaPublished 4 months ago • 5 min read
Porcelain Elephants
Photo by Bruce Hong on Unsplash

The ashes arrived in a beautiful hand-carved wooden box. When I saw it, it was displayed next to a little porcelain figurine of a mother and son elephant. "You can have the figurine," mom said. I picked it up and turned it over in my hands. It was cute. It looked old. Vintage.

I wanted to take a bat at it, scream that it was not enough. Fling it from a rooftop with a string of curses.

Out loud I said, "You'd better keep it, mom. The kids will drop it."

One incoming call is all I have left of her. One.

I don't know if I picked up at the second or third ring. I just know it wasn't the first. How? Because I was shocked. Because she never called. Because I was never the first one she wanted to talk to.

"Hello?" I said. It was 6:18 PM. The call lasted 13 minutes, and 32 seconds. She hesitated on the other side of the phone. She was struggling and I knew it.

Help her, said God.

I swallowed my pride and carried the conversation normally, as I usually would if I were the one calling. How are you? How have you been feeling? Not, why are you calling me?

"I'm sorry I haven't called as much as I should," I said.

Her voice came out wobbly. She said nice things. Things that made me cry, but in a good way this time. She said she loved me. Several times.

God told me to talk to her like it would be my last time. And so I did. But I kept out the bad.

I focused on my love for her. On forgiving. On giving grace. On letting her know I learned a lot from her. I wanted to be strong like she was and I admired her.

She was sad towards the end of the phone call, I told her I would see her again, in eternity, and we would never be apart again.

A few weeks later my dad's call came. It was time. I needed to call her. She wouldn't be able to speak this time.

Her nurse picked up the phone. "She can hear you," she said. Her voice came through. She could only say the first two syllables of my name. "Yes, it's me," I said. "I'm here." I prayed over the phone with her, I read Psalm 23. "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." I sang Amazing Grace. Other things. All in Spanish.

I told her I loved her and asked her to take care of my oldest son in Heaven. Her nurse cried and tried to comfort me. I hung up the phone and buried my face in my husband's chest. I cried like a baby. She was gone by morning.

I watched the family group chat in real-time, expressions of grief, and words of comfort. And the photos. So many photos. Vacations, holidays, selfies... smiles, smiles, silly faces, smiles.

I scrolled through my phone, I searched by face.

Her at my son's second birthday, her holding my son. Her holding my son next to my aunt and that one church lady I hadn't seen in years. Not a single photo of just us. I asked my dad. He posted one of me hugging her at my wedding. My face was halfway covered, all you could see of her was the back of her head. Sounds about right, I thought.

How did she have the time to take all these photos with everyone else? I didn't know she would jump for a silly photo! I didn't know she liked to go hiking. I didn't... I couldn't...

I threw my phone across the room.

Why wasn't I good enough? Why had she never let me in?

"You're fat and you'll always be fat and you'll never have a boyfriend because boys don't like fat girls." I was twelve.

"She's too chubby." I was four.

"The only reason your nails are so long is that you don't do anything to help your mom around the house." I was fourteen.

I screamed into my pillow.

She wasn't the same person towards the end. She had regrets towards the end. She wanted to make peace towards the end. But what about before that? Why did I have to initiate the hugs and be the first one to tell her I loved her?

Because I called you to, said God.

Yes, God. I know. I get it, and I don't regret it but she hurt me!

I know, but I am the One who heals. Not her.

Then why am I still angry? Why does it still hurt?

No answer.

The adult part of me says it was because she was projecting. It reasons that she had a horrible childhood. It points to her own family problems. I nod my head like I agree. Like it makes it better.

But it doesn't.

Because the next time I find myself at my mother's house, I will pick up the box of ashes. Because as I hold it in the palm of my hand for one minute, two minutes, or three minutes, it will still not accumulate to the amount of time I spent in her arms my entire life. Unlike the Elephant figurines encased in porcelain, bound forever in love.

At least the embrace between the elephants is tangible. At least I can make sense of it. In a way, it's permanent.

But the porcelain is still cold. Still fragile. Still breakable.

So, why shouldn't I let it shatter?

But I know I won't.

I know I'll hold it to my heart and take it home. I know I'll remember the good things and tell those things to my children. I know that's what she would have wanted. Because if she could've, she would have done it all over again.

"I love you," I said to her that day on the phone. And I meant it.

What I would do for one more chance to brush her hair. To kiss her cheek. To sing to her.

One day I know, I'll fully heal.

But for now, I love her, and I can say, she loved me too.

And that's enough.

Because, unlike porcelain, love remains...

Even when it's a little broken.


About the Creator

D.S. Fisichella

D.S. is an Award-Winning Poet and Author of the Bestselling Young Adult Christian Novel, DREAMER.

Follow her on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook or visit her website:

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Comments (2)

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  • HandsomelouiiThePoet (Lonzo ward)3 months ago

    Congratulations 🎉

  • Teresa Diaz4 months ago

    God's love and grace truly surpass all understanding. ❤️🥹 Loved this story so much. I related to it, and it made me tear up a bit. Thank you for sharing!

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