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Essays by Karen Anderson: Honey Jar

Illustration by Kacie Brown

Under the staircase in our old house is a small pantry that opens onto the kitchen. It has narrow shelves and not much light but it’s a handy place to stash canned goods and staples. On a recent morning I was putting some honey back on a shelf when I heard a sickening thud.

The jar had fallen and shattered—spilling honey and broken glass across the wood floor. While I stood there scolding myself, my husband just said, “It was an accident.” And then he brought me a spatula and a container, a bowl of soapy water and a sponge, and held the flashlight.

I had to wash the floor three times, but I was energized by my anger at myself. “So stupid,” I kept muttering until my husband finally grabbed me by my shoulders and said, firmly, “It was an accident.”

This time I heard him and thanked him. And I wondered as I dried the floor with paper towels, “Why are we so hard on ourselves?” Of course it was an accident. Of course I didn’t do it on purpose. And yet, I needed someone else to forgive me before I could forgive myself.

I hoped I would remember that when it was my turn to say, “It was an accident.”

Karen Anderson contributes "Essays by Karen Anderson" to Interlochen Public Radio.