Have you ever witnessed a heart break?
I’ve seen the part right before.
There’s a part right before a heart breaks, right before it completely goes to pieces. The heart is so hurt it wants to shatter, but something won’t let that happen, just yet. The body fights to hold it together. I’m not sure why. Maybe because it understands that it needs the heart to keep going. Maybe it still has hope, somehow. The heart tries to break, but the body fights to hold it together, and as a result, the body shakes. It shakes, it vibrates, with a force.
At Edward’s funeral, I watched Pat, his boyfriend, as his heart tried to break. I watched his body, on the pew directly in front of me, vibrating as it was hunched over. I saw the waves of sobs wrack his body, and I saw as the entire bench shook from the force.
He’s had other relationships since; it’s a good thing his body kept himself together.
That was the only time I’ve seen it happen. Then I felt it happen to me.
Four weeks ago, after four years, he wrapped me double in his arms and told me that he loved me. And I said it back, and felt happy. XXXXX and Khalilah, together at last.
Three days ago, I accepted that it didn’t matter. Love wasn’t enough to keep us together.
As I made his bed, preparing to leave him, my body shook harder than it ever has. I didn’t see the bedspread I was holding. I saw Pat, shaking the bench in front of me with his entire-body sobs. Love wasn’t enough to keep Edward here, either. Not for Pat; not for me.
I tried so hard this time, I thought, and realized that my heart was what was shaking me. It wanted to fall apart, but my body wouldn’t let that happen. Why wouldn’t it let that happen?
“Hey, what’s good, shawty? I wanna see you smile!”
We’re cutting into the narrative like this man cut into my thoughts. You never escape your identities. Even walking out of his space, crying and remembering and trying to make sense of my situation, I was still a woman on the street, begging for a man to slow down his car and yell at me out of his driver’s side window.
In “Eyes of Zapata”, Sandra Cisneros writes as one of Emiliano’s lovers. She beautifully describes ‘balancing his body on top of hers’, taking him in, protecting and loving him fiercely until the time he leaves her to go back into the war, and to another mistress. I think how relieved I am, that I never balanced his body. I wonder how I would be now, if that had happened.
In another story, she writes of a thirteen-year old impregnated by a man who never sees her again. It’s an abusive, sad story, that you wouldn’t realize if you didn’t shut off the beauty of her writing. When Sandra writes, it’s a love story to rival the classic romances.
I don’t want to romanticize my pain anymore. I don’t want to make it beautiful. I’ve done it for four years, and it’s taken me until this moment to realize that it doesn’t help anything. It’s a hindrance.
“The worst part of all of this is that now I suddenly relate to all these things,” I tell my friend. “All these posts about relationships, about love. I get them. I see myself in them. It’s like I’m a person.”
“You are a person,” my friend tells me.
I am a person. I, am a person. I can’t look at myself as a ghost anymore. I’d like to. I’d love to think of myself as a perpetual haunt, untouchable as long as I’m trapped on Earth. It would mean not having to face reality.
But in reality, he touched me, anyway.
And he is a person. And he is flawed. And I am not enough to make his flaws go away, because I, too, am only a person.
Maybe he didn’t understand that. Maybe, in the grief of four years ago, I convinced him that I was a ghost. So when he touched me, he didn’t believe in my tangibility. He didn’t believe that I had enough love to actually stay.
I’m not Edward. I can stick around.
And maybe that’s why I’m supposed to be here. Because I can stay. I may not enjoy it most of the time – I may hate it most days. But I have the strength to be suicidal and stay alive, and he didn’t.
I’m not shaking anymore, and I’m not hiding. I’m not a ghost. I’m the free crow, and I’m a person.