The sanctuary has now fallen into great neglect, unlike in the past when it had been held in great honour.
Strabo, 1 AD.
After my mum died, over eight years ago now, her various bits and pieces- the objects left on her bedside table, her desk, by her bathroom sink- were separated out amongst her children. My sisters split the only really precious objects, her jewellery. The rest, which didn’t amount to much, was shared out without much thinking. In that vague, irrational aftermath I took everything on offer, including her baggy jumpers and an over-washed, woollen hat. One of the few things I kept which lasted beyond those first few weeks was her favourite mug. She had several mugs but this was the one she used most days. I used it everyday, almost religiously. Not long ago I came home to find the mug broken on the kitchen table. On seeing the broken pieces beside the small note of apology from my housemate I was struck by a terrible hollowness. It was one of the few objects remaining that belonged to my world and hers. As time moves further from the point of her death, these overlapping objects, clothing, furniture, a book, an old letter, get lost or broken. For that moment, leaning against the counter, another distance opened up, one that I felt could not be retraced.
I was faced with the practical matter of what to do with the broken pieces. I didn’t want to throw them out. I tried gluing them back together, racing into town almost immediately to buy superglue, but there were a few shards that had been lost and it never went back together, not like it had been, so I stopped before the glue set and shuffled the pieces around again. Without knowing why exactly I decided to keep the biggest piece, about a third of the mug. It had a large part of the face, including a black West Highland Terrier – her favourite dog – with a pink bow (once red), nearly the whole of the handle, and most of the base so it could just about sit upright. I threw away the rest, and kept this piece on my desk. Every so often, during the course of a day, when I was bored or distracted, I would look up and see it, always the first object to catch my eye. In many ways it was even more present as a memory. The complete mug, thinking about it now, may have lost its potency for being so functional even after my mum had died.
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