What becomes of the brokenhearted?

There are moments when your own Voice of Experience is just so damn not helpful.

My friend is in the middle of heartbreak. It’s…well…heartbreaking. My friend is also quite a bit younger than I am, and I’m “wise” enough to know to let her cry, work it out in her way, yell if she needs to. Because I’m not so old that I don’t know that the last thing anyone wants to hear is “you’ll get over it.”

For the record, I have had my heart broken – just absolutely shattered – exactly twice. I can speak about one of these heartbreaks. It was a long time ago; I was only a couple of years older than my friend is now. I was in graduate school. 23? 24? That horrible age where you think you know everything but really you’re pretty much an infant who’s able to legally drink. That was me, anyway. I was in love, and completely blindsided by the fact that I was also, apparently, disposable.

And Jesus God, that hurt.

It hurt a lot. It literally made me sick, that hurt. I was so hurt I didn’t take care of myself at a time when I really should have, and I got pneumonia. I remember a winter of icy trees, endless papers about Walt Whitman and Adrienne Rich, and really, really good cough medicine, which I enjoyed a little too much.

When I think of it now, sitting in my house with my husband and my two cats and my Big Girl furniture, it brings about a dull pang, the feeling that someone has just given my heart a quick pinch. I still hurt for that 23-or-24-year-old, the way you hurt for a character in a movie you’ve seen a thousand times, but never tire of watching, especially when you need a good cry.

The thing is, I got over it. I had to, in order to get to where I am. But if anyone had told me as much back then, I’d have gotten quite angry. You don’t want to hear that your heartbreak is “fixable,” because it’s yours and hearing that there may be an end to it implies, somehow, that it isn’t real.

And that’s why I just sat with my young, heartbroken friend, and let her cry. And then I told her I’d take her out for sushi next week. And I will.

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