I have always had a visceral reaction to shattered glass. Not out of any particular phobia or sense of loss. Not out of any particular apprehension of injury or stitches. But the sound triggers a memory buried deep within my subconscious.
Many years, neigh decades, ago, I was a carefree four or five-year-old living on Robinson Avenue in Pawtucket, RI. when something that can only be explained as a moment of weakness took place through the actions of my father.
He brought home a German Shepherd puppy. Demonstrating the future brilliance of my then undeveloped creative skills, I named the puppy Shep.
I know, sheer brilliance in its originality.
The puppy was my sole focus for many weeks. Living in a tenement house, the selection of a dog that could grow to 90 or 100 pounds may not have been the wisest of choices, but for me, it was the best thing in the world.
The dog slept in a garage next to the house. I have no memory of this, but I would suspect it was the garage for either the dog or my father at my mother’s insistence. Every morning, I would rush out to feed the dog and play with him in the backyard.
I am not sure the dog ever came into the house. That part of the memory is forever missing, but I know he was the center of my life.
One day, after rushing out to feed him, I found Shep lying on the ground, lethargic and whimpering. Not knowing what to do, I ran to the one person I thought could fix this: my mother. She and my father, then just getting ready for his return to the Rhode Island State Police Barracks where troopers stayed back then during their tours of duty, came out to examine the dog.
From this point, the memory clouds. The last I saw Shep, my father was taking him away. The once exuberant puppy had the saddest eyes and was clearly in pain. We never replaced him, how could I?.
I later learned that the older boys who lived in the house had been playing in the yard, broke a small window in the garage, but never told anyone. The shattered glass fell into the food dish where I had put his food and Shep ingested the shards.
Thus, shattered glass always triggers the memory. I can still see those sad eyes as he left. They were a mixture of confusion, sadness, and, I hope, forgiveness.
Most times, we forget the shattered shards moments after we sweep them away, but sometimes they remain embedded in your heart forever.