A broken heart is a funny thing.
At first it doesn’t feel real. The world goes a little blurry and on the surface you’re doing and saying things, but underneath you wonder if it really happened.
Then the emptiness comes. And the reality sets in. And there is no reason to check your phone anymore but you keep doing it. And there is no reason to wait for a call that won’t come, but you still wait. And worse than wondering why is wondering how.
That is when it becomes the most real thing in the world.
And suddenly the feeling of it not being real is replaced by a hole inside of you that keeps getting bigger and bigger. Until you fall inside of it. And you feel lost between trying to climb back out and trying to fill it up. Which do you do first? How do you do either?
Eventually pretending you’re okay is doable. You can laugh about things. Be okay for just a moment. Maybe even forget when you can finally fall asleep.
But the emptiness doesn’t leave.
It does evolve though. And rather than walking around with a gaping hole it feels like a fire. It is lit inside the place where they lived, and burns slowly from the inside out every time you remember. But it never reaches the outside. It just continues to burn.
Remembering is the cruelest part. You have to decide which parts to remember, and which parts to forget. But you never really forget. Do you? And you fight the urge to remember, and you fight the urge to forget. And you’re caught somewhere in the middle.
Why does your heart keep beating?
There are silver linings, I suppose. Lessons that needed learning. You learn how to sympathize. You learn to understand. You learn that the worst pain in the world isn’t physical. You learn who is there for you. And sleep on a lot of couches just so you don’t have to be alone.
Life takes on new shapes. Decisions have to be made now that your future is different. You try and be grateful for all the goodness, and there are brief moments of sunshine. They make the waves a tiny bit better.
Because there are a lot of waves.
Waves of grief. They hit you when you least expect it. Waves of questions you wished you had asked. Waves of longing that widen the hole and stoke the fire. Waves of wondering. Waves of wishing. Waves of pure confusion. An entire ocean inside of you.
There is no more waiting. There is no reason to. None. And yet it is the only thing you know how to do anymore. So you’ll wait. At least for a little while. A piece of your soul will wait forever.
Sometimes there is too much to feel.
So you have to choose. Do you curl up and feel it all? This choice is the one that ends in more tears than you knew you could produce. They soak your pillow. And the shirts of your friends. The coats of your brothers. The blonde hair of your nieces and nephews that pile on top of you.
Or do you push it away? Forget about it all? Pretend it never happened? That only works for a minute. It catches up to you eventually when you suddenly hear a song, a word, a phrase, a movie, see a restaurant. When the memories are everywhere, they are inescapable. It will all catch up to you. And you’ll end up with the first choice anyway. In the tears. But not on your own couch, or your own hallway. Far away from the memories until walking through them doesn’t hurt anymore.
Why does your heart keep beating?
They all tell you to write it out. “It’s what you do.” They say. “It will help you feel better.” But you’ve forgotten how to write. How do you write without feeling it all? Maybe cry first, and then you can write numbly. Put it into a sort of poem. Then it becomes a project.
There are some moments of peace. When a little voice tells you there is a plan. And you hold on to this idea. That there is a plan. And for a moment you feel better, because having a plan is better than navigating the pain. So you wake up in the morning, on a different couch or maybe in your bed. You learn about colonial America. You go back to work. You spend money on frivolous things. You spend too much time with your friends. And you do the best you can.
And you try not to think about the fact that no matter what, at the end of the day, they are still gone.
You try and move forward. Moving on isn’t in the cards right now, because you don’t think about tomorrow. But you can move forward. Hour by hour. Remembering the things you love. Even though you’ve discovered that there are some things even Frank Sinatra can’t fix.
You send out your love. Because even though you wish it wasn’t, it is still there. And you pray they can feel it. You don’t want to become bitter. You remind yourself that love is beautiful. That it can conquer all. But in order to do so, you have to let it. Being in love is a frightening thing. You have to give yourself wholly to it, or it will fall apart. You have to stop thinking so much, or it will disappear. You have to have faith, or the fear will creep in.
These are the things you tell yourself. Hour by hour.
And somehow your heart keeps beating.