Back-Up Hearts

I’m so absent-minded this morning, I put on my reading glasses and then started looking for them on my desk.

Hard news does that. It takes you out of life and puts you in a stupor, in a murky haze with no walls and no exit.

I’ve been lucky. Not much hardship for me but, as is inevitable with age, hardship is circling me and the ones I love. With a single email or a text from a friend, my life changes course.

The challenges seem to get harder and heavier. They take longer to get out from under. Some just stay there and you have to adjust to the new coolness of the shadow.

Our hearts are tender. No one person is strong enough.

Fortunately for us, we have back-up hearts, which we’ve been collecting since childhood. Hearts we found on so many ‘first days,’ and chose to keep in our lives. Hearts that saw our beauty and chose us.

These hearts, without hesitation nor concern for their own delicate structure, will fan out and surround us when our own heart is failing.

As one heart fills with blood and screams louder than an earthquake, so loud it might explode, the others emerge, stand guard around it, align their cadence, and slowly, gently, as if righting a mighty vessel, turn the noise into a rhythm again.

With this call, the pain that has been nesting within us has no choice but to go into these other hearts, to expand itself and thin out. That’s just how pain works. And what hearts do.

As the pain distributes and the hearts accept, the pain weakens, and although a piece of it may live forever in a corner of that one very special heart, it’s never going to be strong enough to break it.