Photos and text by Corey Amaro
This was the sugar bowl that shattered on the red tile floor when it fell from Mademoiselle Elise's hand back in 1916.
This was Mademoiselle Hoped-to-be-Husband, Pierre-Louis. Often she told her children how handsome their father looked the day she placed her necklace around his neck and whispered in his ear, "Come back to me, Come back to me..." as he left wearing his beret that day long ago.
This was Mademoiselle Elise's medal the one Pierre-Louis had on the day a bullet came aiming towards his heart.
Pierre-Louis liked to tell his grandchildren that it wasn't the medal that saved his life, it was their grandmother's Elise's words whispered in his ear that day so long ago.
As time went on Elise had the sugar bowl repaired by the man who walked along the streets playing a flute. The flute's music was a signal to housekeepers that the porcelain repair man was in town.
At the table in the kitchen the porcelain repair man sat, gently drilling holes to wire the sugar bowl back together. He asked, "How did the sugar bowl break?"
"I was drying it when I received news that Pierre-Louis, my fiancé, had been shot. I didn't know then whether he was dead or alive. Months later, I found out that a medal I gave him had saved his life.
The sugar bowl you are working on... he gave it to me the day he left for the war, he told me it was to hold my sweet thoughts until he returned."
As he worked he couldn't help notice how her eyes glistened. Happiness is not easy to come by, he knew that by listening to the stories as he repaired their broken hearts objects.
The shattered sugar bowl was restored, it had scars but they were no longer desperate wounds.
Seventeen months later Pierre-Louis returned.
Elise gave him the sugar bowl...
Pierre-Louis saw the cracks, he traced them with his finger, with hidden anticipation he opened the sugar bowl, and saw that it was empty.
"Where are your sweet thoughts, I was hoping to read them when I returned." He didn't understand.
Elise told him, "Instead of sweet thoughts I prayed, I hoped, I cried, I longed, I waited... Instead I kept my fear inside the sugar bowl. Knowing if ever you came back to me my fear would leave and we could fill it with a life together."
A few weeks later the medal slept in the sugar bowl.
Years later the grandchildren would open the sugar bowl lid, and unroll the notes of a life well lived.
Last Sunday I found this medal at the brocante. When I asked the dealer about the hole she told me it was from a bullet during WWI. On the same stand I found a sugar bowl, the dealer told me how a man use to go around villages repairing broken china..."Often they sang or played a musical instrument to let people know they were in town."
With those two tidbits a story came to mind.