I have a broken heart. Maybe you do too? Half a century plus of assorted pain, adds up to a big broken heart. Broken open. Broken down. My dad was 52 when he died.
Today is my birthday. Now I am 52. Like he was when his heart broke down.
Heart attack. They ushered my mom out of the room when they tried to revive him with the bulky paddles you see in the movies. The lifeless, helpless body jumps up and thumps back down until the monitor starts going beep, beep, beep, and everyone is so relieved and looks up at each other in gratitude that the heart was jolted back to Life. His was a long resounding beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep, the kind that doesn’t stop until you turn off the electronics.
In the stillness, the Spirit leaves the body; the flesh is left heavy on the table, soon to become cold and stiff, then burn, then gone, maybe into a lawn called the graves of the unknown. A small lawn in a cemetery full of others that didn’t want a dedicated cemetery plot. Not wanting someone to feel guilty when the plot was left untended for too long, the sad plot, not visited often enough to make it feel relevant.
We go alone. We came alone—all that.
I made a pact with God when I had kids. Take it all. Strip me of all. Put me through the fire, do any and all that it takes to break and shape and mold and transform me. I am here for it. I hate it. It hurts. It’s lonely if you choose not to distract, which few of us do.
Because remembering that God’s Love is within is the opposite of what we learn. Out there. Someone out there beyond my flailing arms. Hold me. Come. Hear my cry in the cold dark room — but she couldn’t because she was sick and couldn’t pick me up. Why no one else could, I don’t know. I just know that it was frightening to be crying for something, someone out there to hold, to care. A baby is just too new inside time to know: this too shall pass.
I made a pact with God. You can’t do that, by the way. But for years, I thought we had an understanding. Take all, break it all apart, break it up, break it down, break it open, let all the shadow monsters be known, mine and yours, in a merciless battle, like Ukraine and Russia, like the Red and Blue. Like all the assholes we judge for not being loving and kind and peaceful — and here we are refusing to look our own monsters squarely in the eye.
The pact was a full surrender. With a caveat. The one all parents put in there. But there can be no caveats in a pact with God. It’s all in — or spending eternity throwing a tantrum on the really-high-up diving board. Don’t make me, don’t make me, don’t make me jump into nothingness with no guarantees and butterfly alarm bells blaring with emergency in the solar plexus.
Give me just something, someone, one little hand of Love to hold, to know that this human aloneness isn’t something I have to transform from cold steel to radiant Light. I can’t. It’s not scientifically possible to transform steel into Light. With no one cheering you on: you can do it, you can do it because they didn’t do it either, so why would they lie?
And so it is that I woke up on my birthday with a heavy heart. Because now, I am walking into the last life year that my dad managed to stay alive for — before his heart gave out.
But as I am letting these heavy emotions roll through my heart center, releasing them as we do in a human body through salty tears, I sense Life in here. You know, even wanting to write is a creative energy that comes from a will to be excited about creating. I do sense the Light of God of Love inside my chest cavity. A determined will. To be in this cauldron called Life. With or without. Transforming my broken human heart into a Burning Heart, a full-fledged Furnace of Love in which even steel will eventually melt and become radiant, glowing Light.
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