I never wrote about your heart.
Sometimes, when I try to write, my fingers hover over the keyboard and the words rise like a lump to the back of my throat and just stick there. Sometimes, I wrap the words in story before they ever leave my body – name them too ungrateful, too insignificant, insensitive, unfair. Sometimes, I stop them long before they can begin.
I never wrote about your heart, because the tiny hole in your tiny heart felt small in the universe of wild and terrible things. I never wrote about the hours I counted your murmuring heartbeats, or the way you screamed as they searched and searched the images of your tiny newborn chest, or the way my own heart stopped when the tech had to call in a second opinion, when we learned how your insides are a mirror, a reflection, nothing exactly where it should be and everything perfectly in place.
I never wrote about your heart, because somewhere another heart had stopped beating while yours continued, and isn’t it unfair, and aren’t we lucky, and who am I to lament the insignificant terror of your humble, healed and healing heart. When I quantify loss, we have only gained, and so I deemed the story of your tiny heart unworthy, I silenced the fear, and I put it away.
“Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine…”
We are creatures made to run from broken things. Our instinct, in the face of our worst possibilities, is to flee to the safety of our apathy and our routine. We have skins that itch with the silence and the sitting and the incurable necessity of grief, so we flee them – the massive losses and the smallest awfuls – we run. We avoid. We distract.
I’d argue also that we flee our joys. We weight our moments of possible magic with our cannots and our should nots and our missing things and our regrets. This would be perfect if only you were with me, this would be everything if only I hadn’t, I would be happy if only I could resolve this last only if only if I. We hold certain memories in sacred light and convince ourselves that nothing can match them, we build our nests in our pasts and our futures, and in doing so, we forget simply to hold each other, to laugh, to look one another in the eye.
I never wrote about your heart, but I mourned the dream of fearless first baby days with you. A small grief, insignificant, but a grief that anchors me to the larger unthinkables. Our grief, our joy, our ability to allow ourselves the very heights and depths of feeling – these are where we meet each other. They are the place we can sit in the silence and the laughter, sit with the tears and the longing, the glory and the light. They are the work and the reward of community, of living together, of knowing each others’ names.
Today, hearts are breaking, and mine will break for them. Today, yours is beating, and mine will be grateful and full of a thousand questions, and relieved to know that grief, and joy, and questioning can be all contained within it. We have hearts that can hold the deepest loss and the most marvelous victory and the largest doubts and the wildest laughter and come out living. We just have to open them to each other. We just have to open them.
We just have to anchor our feet and stay in the silence, awkward and wondering, broken and healed.