The shards felt too small to possibly ever be put back together. Jagged pieces, that were all that remained of my heart after the rosy romance crash-landed. It had been at least five years since that first glimpse, a quickening of my heart, and the thought – could he be ‘the one’? The interest, delightfully, turned out to be mutual; leading to months of endless chatting, going out, and me floating on air as we planned our happily-ever-after. And then it was no more!
A friend, not quite my father’s age, but more of a trusted older brother summoned me. Maybe he had noticed my clothes hanging ever more loosely on my frame, or the frantic frenzy with which I attacked my work, or how uncharacteristically quiet I had become.
“How are your wedding plans coming along?” He asked me.
“They are not!” I blurted.
With only a little persuasion I tearfully poured out my tale of woe. It had been some weeks already since that night when I had happily gone on a date, only to return home dazed – as one sleepwalking through their worst nightmare. My erstwhile beau had broken off with me. Despite the hint, or two, of trouble in paradise – this was unexpected! And so, I narrated my story, as I came apart in a pool of tears.
This older brother could have read me a verse that afternoon. He could have challenged me to pull myself together and think positively. Instead, he listened and did what no one else had done for me.
You see up until that point friends had said; move on, there are more fish in the sea (who wants to date a fish?) and God has a purpose (true). In church the worship leader had roused us to ‘trade our sorrows for the joy of the Lord’, and try as I could, my sorrow refused to budge. Day after day I wept quietly on the bus as I rode home after work. At night, I agonizingly counted the minutes to morning, with only the barking of the neighbourhood dogs for company, sleep having evaded me. I forgot to eat in that bleak, colourless world where sometimes an insidious voice would taunt, “What is there to live for?”
This friend whispered; “cry until it becomes ridiculous.”
He gave me permission to grieve.
With those words, he acknowledged my loss and validated my feelings of heartbreak. I did not need to pull myself together and be strong. That day would come – just not yet.
It seems that flicker of hope is all I needed. I don’t remember how long it took for the well of tears to dry up, but it did. Eventually, the weight of grief lifted, I stepped lighter, slept better and started to eat. A realization flowered within, there was still so much to live for and possibly even other loves. Hope was restored.
Now married for 19 years I know a broken heart can mend, one can love again, that indeed in life’s ocean, there are other
fish young men. But never have I ever forgotten the understanding from my friend, and his wise counsel.
He did not judge the pain in my heart, assuming to read some imaginary needle on a scale to determine whether my grief was within acceptable limits. Neither did he give me an appropriate time in which to wrap up the crying and move on. He acknowledged there was pain and that we each carry our pain differently. That soft urging – cry until it becomes ridiculous – made all the difference.
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