Saturday, September 10, 2011


A balloon let go.
Maybe it's all the 9/11 tributes?

Because they keep punching me in the stomach.

So I can't stop thinking about broken hearts. And broken people.

My heart's been broken three times. None were romantic relationships. I've never talked about the first one. It was like being a balloon on a string. Someone let go. That made me the man I am, but not the man I chose to be. Still, that old lingering scar makes me wistful sometimes. But as the saying goes, "courage strengthens at the wound."

The second time my heart broke wasn't any easier. It hurt more. Way more. And it was my biggest mistake. But I was young. Time has helped me see that experience with clarity. I realize now that if her death broke my heart, it smashed her mother's heart, her father's heart, her sister's. I had my whole life ahead of me to heal.

And I did heal. Thanks to friends. But more thanks to my wife.

Yet it still lingers too. And that's the rub: the lingering. There's a poem I love:

A heart that has been broken
by Maureen Owen
A heart that has been broken
has a tiny hinge
And when it happens a
second or third time
it just
swings open & shut
like a gate

I know I'm not to harden my heart. I mustn't lock the gate. But I sure slam it shut sometimes for fear of everything deflating.

And the third broken heart? It hurts most of all. I can't imagine it being worse.

But I've eyes in my head. I know life could be worse. And when that sounds like bullshit even to me (and it certainly seems that way right now), it's what I keep on loop in my head to help me forgive. Mostly myself.

Yes, things could be much worse. In my life, even as a Canadian far far from ground zero, 9/11 trumps all the suffering. Devastated, I watched it live before I went to work that morning. Then I steeled myself to do my job. And now, I steel myself again. And yet try to remain open-hearted too. It's just so damn hard.

I would never compare my struggle with anything the 9/11 families and New Yorkers have endured. But I do find solace in their stories. Their rising up. Their survival.


The Gaelic Wife said...

My firefighter neighbors were at the Pentagon for over a week trying to extinguish the smouldering fire. Then they went to New York for countless funerals of friends. Surviving is hard.

Alittlesprite said...

I too remember watching the tv that day in stunned disbelief. Also have shed many tears for those unknown victims and their families.

But dbs, I don't think anyone should think that their pain or heartbreak is any less than any one else's. Pain is pain, no matter what caused it. We all deserve to grieve for ourselves.

Alistair said...

Will there be anyone not thinking about this today? Very few I imagine.

This post immediately brought some song lyrics to mind - oddly from a song I can't recall, but I think they're from Chris Rea.....

The scars I bear still hurt me/but I won't ever let them heal/for each one is a lesson/and each one is a shield.

The 11th of Sept ten years ago was my mother's 75th birthday and we were due to celebrate together. Instead I witnessed someone who had her world view, her faith in the inherent goodness of humanity, shattered and watched an old lady cry uncontrollably for people she never knew in places she had never been. She refused to celebrate her birthday from then on as she felt that it was inappropriate. She couldn't separate herself from the grief she experienced on that day.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

It's a tough weekend, all right. That little poem is magnificent.

The Gaelic Wife said...

Oh Alistair. That is so sad.

dbs said...

@TheGW Yes it is. Thank you for sharing this.
@sprite Pain is pain. I'll remember that. Thank you for being so kind sprite.
@Alistair A lesson and a shield. I'll remember that too. Thank you. And I feel so badly about your mother's experience that day.
@DSWS Yes it is. And yes, it's truly a gem of a poem.

Vinny C said...

Heartbreaks have a way of either strengthening us & making us wiser or making us jaded & cold. I guess it's all in how you deal with them.

That was a day that changed the world for a lot of people. Even those of us who were never close physically to where it happened.

Munk said...

Hearts shall mend.

Alistair said...

We had many other days that were very happy GW before and after.

Another thought came to mind too dbs

'Grief is the price we pay for love'

again, unfortunately I don't recall who said it first.

Alittlesprite said...

Hugs my friend.

Core Contrarian said...

Loved this.

Laoch of Chicago said...

To feel deeply is to live fully. Good wishes to you and your family.

Ryan said...

Sometimes life can throw the most awful things at us, you can either fall down and out or try and deal with it the best way you can and fight on.

Antares Cryptos said...

Wounds heal, the scars remain.

Michael said...

There's nothing to add here. You've said it all.

Chelle said...

I hate my broken heart.

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