There are two types of heartsores in life. At 28, I have only experienced one kind. The first are those caused by boys. Or girls. And the moment they tell you: I do not choose you.
These moments, in a word, suck. They creep up on you like creditors – leaving messages you only listen part way through before erasing. They must have the wrong number. Besides, they’re never getting back their old sweatshirt.
Sometimes you are more prepared and it’s more like an amusement park ride winding down. You know it was fun. You can remember it being fun. It just was! Wasn’t it?
But suddenly you changed speeds and now you’re noticing the rust on the bolts, the scratches on the seats, the unnerving grating of metal on metal as the brakes go on – and he does too. So you both ignore the attendant reaching for the door and sit there wishing the ride would last a little longer. Partially because you recall really wanting to get on this ride with this person, partially because you don’t want to have to find another line worth standing in. You already did that. Now you have to pee. Plus you’re hungry. And now you don’t feel like being turned upside down.
The other type of heartbreak is when you face losing someone permanently. Like your Nana. And these moments are, in a word, scary.
Moving forward, there is no checking her status updates on Facebook to see if she’s feeling tired or feisty or somewhere in between. You can’t email her out of the blue wanting to know how much butter to put in the frosting for her Italian cookies. Can’t call just to hear her clear her throat and tell you about the damn dog she loves so much. The latter type of heartsore feels more like something foreign that has taken up residency in your chest. It just sits there pulsing and existing and you wonder if it ever goes away.
With your ex love interest, you know he or she is going about a daily routine that no longer involves you. Or you at least hope they are. At some point your neurotransmitters will rewire and you will stop connecting this person to everything in your life. Eventually, a fire truck will just be just a fire truck again. Eventually, you will stop wanting to call her after you hear something funny. Or not funny. But you wanted to share it with her anyway.
This second type of heartache is different. And I suspect it’s because we can’t imagine a ‘what next’ scenario. Or at least, I can’t.
You can’t imagine not hearing this person say things like, “You know, you don’t have to marry a young man,” after you express enthusiasm for Vice President Joe Biden – a guy who should have access to a take back button shortly after opening his mouth. Kind of like you. And you harbor a deep fear that you will never hear someone else say, “Love goes where it is sent – even to a monkey’s ass,” and suspect no one else will ever cook you Shit on a Shingle, or know how to burn the chicken cutlets just right. You worry that you have not asked all the questions you have for her. You worry that she is afraid.
You wonder, will you ever be able to look at your hands as they type and not see someone else’s? In time, will you look in the mirror and not see a frown all too familiar? Or when you laugh will you suddenly stop because you hear someone else in the room? I ask, because I only know how to deal with the first type of heartsore.
And though I’m no expert, they generally go something like this: You collect your things. Try not to forget anything on the field, meet in the middle, and shake. You say good game. You vow to find a more worthy opponent next time and exit towards the street. You look both ways before crossing. Then you go home.
I’m lucky. So far I have never lost a grandparent I remember. Selfishly, I think about how I do not have much time with my Nana, rather than the other way around.
In a break up, it’s OK that it’s all about you and the loss of something bigger than yourself. Because it belonged to you. It existed because you played a role in creating it. But this is altogether different; this time it’s not about you and what you’re losing. Because this person made you. This person shaped you. They enabled you to go forth and allow your heart to find another person’s to rub up against for awhile. And when it broke, they were there to tell you: better things will come. And she was right. And you want to tell her so, but that’s making it all about you again isn’t it?
So I am going home tomorrow to not talk about me. I am going home to hold her hand. To sit next to her and just watch the birds on the deck or leave her alone with the damn dog if she so desires. I will not burden her anymore with questions about her life. That is, unless she wants me to. And if so, I will just listen.