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The Curse of a Broken Heart (and no this is not a riveting Nancy Drew)


posted by Susan Dominikovich on , , , ,

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I have long held the belief that in marrying a man from New Zealand, I have cursed myself.  It has nothing at all to do with Marmite on toast or the ingrained kiwi "she'll be 'right" approach to life (although, they do come a close second in the cursing department).  It is my heart that is cursed:  I am forever cursed to love and let go.  Love and let go.  Love and let go again.

I blame no one for being forever cursed in the heart department.  I chose to leave friends and family to forge a new life in a new country with my husband.  It was never meant to be permanent.  Ironically, a few days before our wedding I met a Canadian woman who was married to a New Zealander.  I will never forget how she gripped my hands and said, as if to warn me, that I should spend some time in Canada because New Zealand will steal my heart.  Tickets were booked and we were Christchurch bound but it was only meant to be for a few years.  Get to know my husband's homeland while we were still young.  Before we settled down.

New Zealand stole my heart.

And in stealing my heart, it is now forever split in two.  I am cursed with a broken heart.  You see the mere thought of leaving this country, my roots, my home sends my head into a spin and a cold sweat over my body.  It is unfathomable, the thought of not actually living in this amazing land and of not sharing my life with the people in it who have become a part of my very being.  That wouldn't just break my heart but would in fact pulverise it.  With a meat mallet.

So instead I live with my broken heart looking forward to our next visit to Canada, my "home and native land," and all the people in it whom I miss.  Desperately.  And when I go there, I will be struck by the warmth and affection and love of people who knew me 20 years ago and still get me.  They just get me.  And our husbands will share stories and our children will play together and once again I will end up in the homely kitchen of a beautiful friend with a couple of other beautiful friends, all of whom showering us with farewell gifts and trying to smile bravely with their small-talk because they know I am absolutely breaking inside.  Because tomorrow we fly away again.  Fly back home.  After the equally unimaginable good-byes with my parents, my brother and sister, the cousins with whom my children have bonded.  And every time I do it, I say never again.  It hurts too much to have to say good-bye.  I will not do it again.  I can't.

But I do.  Because I am cursed.  Because I accept the choices I have made and decide that the pain (oh such excruciating pain!) of my cursed heart is in fact worth it.  I am a person who feels the highs and lows in equal measure.   The lows may completely devastate me but the highs tell me there is joy in this life.  And that I am loved.  I can endure the lows for the sake of the highs which "will make me fly" (Missy Higgins).  

I can handle it.  I can take this life of mine which means that part of my heart will always be hurting, yearning, wondering.  I know that God has made me for this life and that He has taken me and will continue to take me every step of the way.  The hurting only lets me know how much loving there is to go with it.  It's okay, this cursed heart of mine.

But now a problem.  My cursed heart has been inherited.  My dear 11-year old boy Sam is like me.  Like me, he feels things strongly.  He also has "a different kind of inner view, it's so magnified."  We were thrilled that in March at Easter Camp in Matamata, he made a very special friend, a little girl who liked to hang out with him as much as he like to hang out with her.  In the pure innocence of childhood friendship, they connected.  But she and her family live in a different city and so when camp ended we had to say good-bye.  It hurt but no one was devastated.  

However, thankfully and wonderfully, we were able to visit her family for a few days in the holidays. In one of those God ordained moments, our whole families connected and we had some very special times with them.  Again, Sam and his little friend were nearly inseparable.  And we all became whanau.  

Cue the curse:  the time came to say good-bye to our new friends.  Sam shook Issy's hand with a smile on his face.  I let out a breath thinking perhaps this wouldn't be so bad (it was hard enough saying my own good-byes, let alone having to deal with my child's hurting heart).  But as Sam's behaviour and attitude deteriorated through the day, I knew something was up.  At bedtime as he lay there clenching his Lego magazine until his fists were white, I said ever-so-gently, "what's up Sam?"  He burst into tears with a sob, "I miss Issy!"  A cursed heart.  My boy!

I have thought a lot about it.  A mother's instinct is always to protect her cubs.  And I do desperately want to wrap my arms around each one of my cubs to stop even the smallest prick of pain from getting anywhere near their gorgeous hearts.  Isn't that my job as a mother?  

To do that, I would have to teach them how to put up walls, to never let anyone in so they will never be hurt.  To never be vulnerable.  In fact, I would be teaching them that the highs--the joys and the love of life--are too painful and should be avoided at all costs.  That's not what I believe.  I would not choose to prevent Sam from experiencing the joy of those few days with his friend in order to save him from the pain of that good-bye.  Not in a million years would I choose that.

Because our curse is in fact a blessing. 

We are blessed to love so surely and so deeply.  And yes that means it hurts.  A lot.  Often.  But oh the joy of the love!

So it is not my job to shield my son from the pain of hurt and loss as he goes through life; rather, it is my job to be there for him when his heart is breaking.  To hold him as I did the other night and to murmur softly that it will get better eventually.  Because I know what it feels like.  I know that like me, he will go there again.

And I know it will be okay.

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