heartache

Until my father died suddenly, on a snowy, cold January day 23 years ago yesterday, I always assumed the word “heartache” was simply a metaphor.

Now I know better. I don’t feel it every day anymore, thank goodness, but I still do, a lot more often than I’d like, as though a cold, clammy hand is squeezing my heart until it hurts. Sometimes, when I’m alone, I double over from the pain, and wail, keen, at the top of my voice. I remind myself, repeatedly, that “Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

I’m not trying to be maudlin, or melodramatic. Just honest about the intensity of the grief, partly because I know I am not the only one who lives with this deep aching void, even though our society doesn’t encourage us to talk about it.

And it’s good to talk about our losses, our grief. To share our stories. The pain never goes away completely, but together, we can help each other heal. Heal to the point where our memories bring us joy, not pain, and our hearts, although cracked, are even more able to love compassionately than before.

The absence of you
Carved a hole in my chest,
still aching
despite the passing of time.
If I could talk to you now,
fix my gaze upon your face,
or rest in your unwavering embrace
I wouldn’t let go,
I’d say I couldn’t get through.
Nothing could have prepared me
for the absence of you.
–Sarah Elle Emm

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