[ ATTRIBUTE: photo credit: h.koppdelaney]   

Love and Loss

My lips had pressed against you thousands of times. Your response always firm and present. Demanding even. Lingering inches from my mouth. You were always there for me. You remained constant in cool seasons and warm, always delivering. Always reliable.


I think…I may have loved you.

Old girlfriend? Nah. I’m speaking about my Misissippi State University Dining Services travel coffee mug.  She was a beauty! Adorned in maroon and white – with a little snap on lid and a perfectly sized coffee hole! And then suddenly, one day, after an affair of over 20 years you were gone. This cup had been part of my life before I met and married my wonderful wife of 24 years, Carmon (who, by the way, I like even more than the coffee cup).

I was heading out to my car, in a rush, with my daughter to drive her to school. And there in the console you sat. Cold, dirty and in need of a return trip to the dishwasher. So, to make sure I didn’t forget you when I returned home (to shuttle the next child) I sat you on the driveway. I leaned out from my drivers seat far enough for you to be safe…..or so I thought.

Inexplicably, when I backed the car up I heard a sickening “pa-crunch-doop-doop” (you want better sound effects, go pay for a movie…) and you were gone just like that. I stopped the car and looked back on you, but there was no need to rush out to do CPR.  No, you looked worse than Motley Crue after a night of binging. Lower than a politician giving a concession speech. You were……dead. Flat. Crushed. Gone. Beyond the reach of duct tape salvation. Done.

It’s funny, I never knew I loved you. Until that moment, I didn’t realize how long we’d been together. I lamented your loss to Abby, my daughter, briefly. “I’d had that cup since college.  Over 20 years”. She gracefully looked up from the screen of her Galaxy 3 briefly, “Sorry, dad”, unable to fully grasp the gravity of the loss of an item that I’d had before I even met her mother, she offered me the deepest condolences she could muster.


The loss made me reflective, as introverts are prone to do. This was the only item I owned and still used that I had possessed prior to getting married. Prior to graduating college. Prior to having kids. Prior to being a writer or a sales engineer. Prior to being a father. Prior to being baptized at age 21.

Oh, sure. I have some crap in boxes that I’ve had longer. But this maroon and white coffee cup with it’s pre-formed plastic handle and it’s ever so reliable, non-leaking snap on lid, it was in the cabinet. Honored by being in daily rotation to hold my favorite beverage (thank you again, Lord, for making the bean). It was an old friend.

No, you don’t have to send sympathy cards or emails. I’m okay. But, if you ever find a similar mug……


Do you have items like that? Items that tie you to your past. That have been a constant in your life for two decades or more. That provide a sense of consistency in life. There is a part of me that knew, when reaching for that mug, that everything is going to be okay. The same mug accompanied me on many engineering exam days. The same mug held my mixture of baking soda and hot water when I sang lead in my heavy metal cover band. I packed this mug when moving to South Carolina with as a newlywed. It sat on my desk at my first job. It came to Atlanta with me and survived there for another decade plus. On many trips to the airport. Kids soccer games. Marathon training run mornings. Something about it reminded me that any challenge that comes, I will make it through.

There was an emotional anchor tied to the cup. A good anchor. A belief system. An aura of the good things about the past. A hope for the future. There will be another cup of coffee, but I’ll never have another coffee mug that was there then.

You can shout me down. You can call my coffee cup an idol. You can tell me it was God’s love for me that caused me to flatten my cup with a 21″ Bridgestone.  That there’s a plan bigger than me. But, that won’t make me feel better. Because my cup…..it’s gone. And platitudes and scripture quotes won’t change that. They won’t bring back what’s lost.

I am very thankful that this article is written only about the loss of a plastic cup. For some of you, the losses are steeper. The price of life has been higher. You know what it means to feel God’s hand lift you back up after suffering. Real suffering. Please don’t think my story is intended to minimize that. Like my little cup that was a constant in my life, God’s love is constant in yours, even if its isn’t always obvious.

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I’d love to hear about your “anchor-items”.  Your possessions that may speak to you.  Or, if you want to share about a more serious loss, please feel free.  You can comment privately by clicking to the “Contact Me” page or scroll down to the leave a public comment.  Thanks for reading.

Jeff McKinney
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Jeff McKinney

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Jeff McKinney
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