Cracked Heart

Max told me when he was still in elementary school, “I was immature in 2nd and 3rd grade, but then I started getting pretty grown up once I got to 4th grade. Now that I am in 5th grade I am definitely getting grown up. Then in middle school I will be a teenager so there’s that.” I asked him, “What about high school?” “Well, I will be all grown up then and I will probably have my own place. But my girlfriend and I will still come and visit you. But not every weekend because I don’t want her to think I am a mama’s boy. Maybe more like once a month or something. You’ll be okay with that, right?”

At a certain point your kids become adult-ish. They no longer require you to feed them, sign them up for stuff, wash them, drive them. They actually don’t include you much in their lives any more. It’s a moment you should have been prepared for because let’s be real. You did it, too, back when you were in high school. Back when you became adult-ish.

When Max first started high school, I remember going into his room to get him for dinner. “Dinner’s ready!” I said. He looked at me and returned to his phone. I said, “Don’t give me the teenaged angst eye-roll. I have a copyright on that.” He eye-rolled at me again and said, “I will be down IN A MINUTE.” I did the mature parenting move. I walked out of his room, closed the door, did an eye-roll (copyright 1976) and said, “THIS is how it’s done.” I take my momming wins wherever I can get them.

I have been divorced since 2015. I’ve learned a lot, dating again in my 50’s. About a year ago, I gave up completely on dating for a while. I was tired of putting my heart out there and getting it handed back to me. But I now believe that every relationship is a lesson and it brings you closer to being the best version of yourself. That’s your gift. And you are here to bring your gift to this world. If you don’t, the world will never have it. And that would really suck.

It’s been a hard fight against my own brain to get here, but I am truly fucking grateful. For each relationship in my life. For the one-time dates that went nowhere. For the amazing friendships with badass women that sustain and support me without judgment. For my divorce and for all the relationships that cracked and broke my heart. Because I think if you’ve got a cracked heart, that just means there’s more space for love to be poured into it. Like gold gets poured into the cracks of broken pottery in the Japanese art of Kintsugi, to emphasize and celebrate and make the breaks beautiful.

Last summer, my sons, my nieces, and I went to Oahu’s Northshore to stay for a week. To visit our family and just to be together. We stayed in a two-bedroom local cottage, happily crammed together. Every morning we wandered into the kitchen and made coffee, tea, and our own version of loco moco. We spent our days exploring the local beaches and restaurants. We met up with our family and body-surfed at Ewa Beach.  And we promised that we would come back again. As soon as possible. Because being together filled up and made beautiful all the cracks in our hearts.

For every relationship that never happened, there are so many more that do – and will. Those are the ones that fill the cracks of your broken heart and make it shine. That is your gift to the world, your shining, beautiful, brave heart. That and maybe – your teenaged angst eye-roll. But I still hold the copyright to it.

The Trail

One evening several years ago, Max and I were sitting outside in our backyard and it was getting chilly. I asked Max if he wanted me to get him a sweatshirt. “No, Mom. I need to get used to being uncomfortable. Life is not always going to be comfortable. I am not always going to be perfectly warm or perfectly cool so I have to practice being cold right now.”

Last month something happened to the HVAC in my office at work. For a week during the hottest week of the summer, there was no air conditioning at all. My office was like a hot yoga studio. Or hell. Take your pick. And then, miraculously, the air conditioning came on. And it didn’t go off. It was fucking freezing. I realized that I had gotten complacent and a little princess-y about being too hot or too cold.

Right about then, my niece India called me from the Pacific Crest Trail. “I think I need a doctor. My feet have blisters and I am getting on the next bus to Sonoma County. Can I stay with you?” While India’s feet healed, we went to REI a lot. She got new socks and trail clothes. I got some hiking shoes. After a week, we put India and her fresh feet on a bus to Oregon to finish the PCT. And I got back on some trails myself. And I found the girl I used to be, growing up in the foothills of Colorado.

I realized I’d missed her. I’d been staying too long in classrooms. In libraries. Behind books. Behind a wall. Hanging onto nonexistent relationships. Holding onto boxes of old memories. Sitting in an office that ran hot and cold. It was time to to lace up and spend more time with the girl-who-was-me, who loved being in the wild, on a trail, in the hills, up a rock, on a mountain.

Last week my mom told me, “I need to do more weight bearing exercise for my bones,” after her visit to her oncologist. I came downstairs the next day to go to work and she was getting ready to take the dogs for a walk. She had on a backpack. “What do you have in there, Mom?” I asked her. She said, “My i-Pad, my book, my phone, my glasses.” Then she got the two big dogs, Lilo and Atticus, and went out the door for her weight-bearing walk.

Tonight, my Max skated outside in the moonlight then came in and gave me a big sweaty hug. My beautiful India is finishing the Pacific Crest Trail. My mom put on her backpack today and walked the dogs and kept kicking cancer’s ass. And I’m looking forward to being in the wild, even if it’s just a park trail, very soon.

Max was right. Life is not always going to be comfortable. But there’s beauty on the trail if you keep going. Keep going.