The Glass Case: A Short Story by Kristin Hannah
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Goodreads: In her short story THE GLASS CASE, Kristin Hannah explores the heart and mind of a mother – April Bannerman is a young mother of three, married to her high school sweetheart & living in the same town she grew up in. Although she loves her children and husband, April is plagued by the growing doubt that she has not lived up to the expectations of her own mother – who passed away years ago. When her youngest son goes missing one afternoon, April’s views on her own life – and what is most important – goes through a sudden transformation.
My take and philosophy: This is written in usual Kristin Hannah prose; drawing pictures with her words and linking to real emotions. It's a short story so the expectation of much depth is not of the greatest importance. What the story is really about is love of a child, exploration of the love of a mother, enduring love of a tired but solid marriage, and of satisfaction. The glass case is the figurative case the protagonist keeps her mother's memory. The memory of her mother's encouragement, love, and disappointment. Within the story, the protagonist is pushed to open the Glass Case and carefully examine her mother's disappointment while contrasting her own perceptions.
Although my summary of the story sounds very bland and unexciting, I don't believe it is that way at all. It is really very touching and redemptive. Perhaps because I am tired of the mother who wakes up after years of mothering and taking care of everything only to realize she's gotten older and her dreams of being a *fill-in-the-blank* have never been realized. Because she always planned on doing whatever it is she planned on doing before she sacrificed her life for her husband who doesn't appreciate her and her children who are still sneezing germs all over the place and demanding to be fed every day only to poop it out and occasionally right in the toilet.
Because we all have choices we make in our lives that take us down certain paths. Lamenting what could have and should have been is counterproductive and channeling Gloria Steinem really is not the answer to all of women's life questions and crises. Because the world needed a Gloria Steinem and she did her job well. But women are going to be overworked, underappreciated, and might always question what might have been if only she had taken another path. Too many books feature the protagonist who falls into this category which is good for awhile because we can relate to some extent. Then at some point it is repetitive and we wonder what the point is. Short of a time machine, there is no going back and unmaking those decisions.
What if, given the choice to have a do-over and follow those dreams of getting a Ph.D. and marrying Mr. Wonderful we discover that our lives are still busy and we still wonder if we took the right path? Because we're women and second guessing is our second nature.
What if we step back and look at our lives that are standard, ordinary, tiring and realize that, no matter what choices we made to end up where we are, we would still be 46 years old and here we are? We put away our second guessing and realize we made the choices we made and we're satisfied? Happy? That what is most important to us is within the walls of our homes? We don't have to be Gloria Steinem to be movers and shakers in the world. Our world is our children and we love them. We chose them and we'd do it all over again just to have what we have right now.
Because life doesn't have to be perfect for us to be happy.