Sometimes an aching heart needs to be carefully cradled, suspended, immobilized, insulated from additional blows, so it can safely experience stillness and deep rest. Then, as with an aching muscle or joint, sometimes the best therapy for a broken heart is movement: gentle stretching, slowly increasing in range, encouraged to reach a little further, but never forced. Both rest and movement are necessary for healing.
How do you exercise an aching heart? By actively loving. By allowing love to flow through the broken parts that hurt so deep you can’t catch your breath. By slowly, slowly allowing the scorched and dead parts of your heart to welcome new growth to its inner landscape.
“Do you know what hurts so very much? It’s love. Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked that means pain. There are two things we can do when this happens. We can kill that love so that it stops hurting. But then of course part of us dies, too. Or we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel.”
-Corrie Ten Boom
When Gavin died, I prayed and begged God to open up another route in the form of another baby. It was simply too painful to not have a way to channel all of that leftover love. The desire for another pregnancy that ended with a healthy, living child was overpowering and all-consuming. It was happening all around me. I dreamed of it happening within me.
One day, it happened. Little Heath began to grow. And then, halfway through my pregnancy, my much-wanted rainbow became another angel. I held him for a few transcendent hours, and buried him next to his brother. And the horizon went completely dark. A suffocating stranglehold stole my breath. Where is my path forward? How, now? With both of them, all of them, out of reach?
Not all. Not all of them, mama. I know you wanted more. I know others have more. Some have fewer. Some have none.
In fact, both of these living breathing boys of mine were born after earlier losses. They are both rainbows. Both miracles, both blessings. And they still need so much from me.
Breathe. Gentle stretches. Look up, out. See, connect, reach. Be here. Be here, now, fully. (Or, as fully as you can be–try and be present just a few degrees more than you were yesterday.) Give love, nurture, teach.
I walk two paths, one foot on each. One path is simultaneously full of grief over what has been lost and is carried further away from me every day, longing for what I cannot hold, and hope for a someday-homecoming and reunion like nothing I’ve experienced before. The other path is the here-and-now reality of the living, the details of which sometimes seem so inane and pointless in light of the coming mortality that we will all stare down sooner than we’d like. Yet on that here-and-now path walk my most precious in-the-flesh boys, and I must follow it to the end and be as present and engaged as possible. They deserve that. They need that from me. And being their mom feeds my weary spirit.
Someday, around the bend and out of sight, the two paths will merge. And my splintered heart will be whole again. I believe that, with all of the pieces of my heart. 💙💜🦋