The Broken Ones

Aaron Pace
4 min readNov 19, 2023
Photo by Claudia Wolff on Unsplash

We had played soccer in grandma’s basement before — even though she had politely and repeatedly asked us not to. I was probably 11 years old on a particular Sunday afternoon when we once again made our way into our grandma’s basement to play soccer. We were a bit older than the last time, and it seems that a handful of untrained boys in a narrow room could not avoid damaging something forever.

We were only a few minutes into our game when one of us kicked the ball a bit too hard, sending it flying across the room where it struck an old lamp. The lamp fell to the floor, breaking into dozens of big pieces and innumerable small ones.

The room was adjacent to the stairwell leading up to the room where our parents and grandparents were seated. It didn’t take long for grandma to make her way down to the wreckage.

The first thing grandma asked was if everyone was okay. We nodded without making eye contact. She calmly invited us to go outside, but to be careful about the glass.

Fast forward a few weeks until the next time we were at grandma’s house. When we went down to play, we were all surprised to find that lamp back in its place on the end table. Cracks were visible everywhere, but the lamp was whole, in place, and functioning.

I don’t remember how long it took for the soccer game to start that day. In slow-motion fashion, I remember one of us sending another wild ball crashing into the very same lamp. It didn’t have to reach the floor before it broke again.

We didn’t have to be asked to go outside that time. We all ran down the short hallway, rounded a corner, and raced up the stairs, uncertain we would be able to get outside before grandma discovered the shattered lamp again.

She never brought it up to us, and we never played soccer in the basement again.

A few weeks later, we were back at grandma’s house. She had reassembled that lamp a second time, and it stood on that end table, a small, triangular piece missing near the base, until I was in my early adult years.

It’s no stretch to see ourselves in that lamp. Things happen in life that shatter us in the same way that soccer ball did that lamp. The unexpected loss of employment, a health crisis, the death of a loved one, the addition of a…

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Aaron Pace

Married to my best friend. Father to five exuberant children. Fledgling entrepreneur. Writer. Software developer. Inventory management expert.