Thursday, February 08, 2007

How Do You Mend A Broken Heart?

I remember Grade Eight and having to go to Guidance Class. Our teacher/instructor tried very hard to reach us. He tried very hard to express that we should understand the concept of what satisfaction was, and what life could be. He tried to tell us to embrace happiness when it came because it is a gift and a blessing not to be overlooked and taken for granted. He was faced by our jaded group; our group of hormone-infested tweens; tweens who were practicing our best scowls, while slouching in our chairs, looking through our Farrah Fawcett/Peter Frampton hair. We already knew it all.

He would try and reach us by asking through questions as a forum. He would ask 'what is satisfaction?'. And he would receive the giddy response in return. He would roll his eyes and try to bring us out of our infinite knowledge by suggesting that satsifaction could be attained by reaching the bathroom when you really needed to go. He suggested that satisfaction could come in the form of a really great candy bar if you were really hungry or a great cold glass of water on a very hot day. He tried to suggest that satisfaction could be found in a sunrise after a very rough storm. Or in a good belly laugh after a really good cry. He tried to stress that satisfaction could be attained with small things as well as the big things in life. And if we embraced certain sensations, certain moments they could encapsolate a wonderful moment or at least a better time when things were rough. A moment of satisfaction or happiness should never be overlooked.

He continued on with our class, once a week, trying to guide us along the slippery road into teendom. He tried to help us pick our schools of choice and tried to help us realize that we could all reach our true potential. 'We could be anything. Just think of the possibilities. The world was our oyster.' He would exclaim with an earnest zealousness as we filled out our forms with hopes of admission to a high school of our choice.

But it was not all rose coloured glasses when he dealt us with. He told us to look around the classroom, as a great deal of us, may not make it to our 40th birthday. He told us by the age of twenty-five at least one of us would be dead. And this was greeted by the obligatory 'As if' And 'Pahshaw" that often comes with youth. The doubt of us, not living forever, was not part of our venacular. He was written off with any crediblity after such a remark.

Ingrid and I sat beside each other in all of this. We were never really the vocal girls. If fact we were quiet and I suppose square. We never drank, we didn't smoke, we didn't 'put out'. We sang in the choir, we played musical instruments, we read. We got by and even though we were not the loud girls somehow we were popular. I suppose it was something in the way we wore our lumberjackets and sassoon jeans. Maybe the way Ingrid's braces reflected in the summer sun, or my perms were a thing of beauty to behold. We were never without. We had each other and the attentions of others.

We went through the years together. Heck, we knew each other since we were four years of age. We had countless sleepovers. We were welcomed and lived in each other's homes often preferring the other person's life. We had gone through all our classes together. We knew how each other's thoughts and had a great love of sarcasm and our past was safely embedded in the countless letters that Ingrid had kept safely stored in bankerboxes underneath her bed through out the years. Her parents lived the straight and narrow always safe, with the ever calm presence of Ingrid's father playing the piano. There was a calm pressence there.

My House by contrast was a bit unruly, with boarders and shift work. There were four kids and there were always playdates which filled th house with a certain rauccousness. My father was a cop and the possibility of his demise was always on the surface of our family's day to day life as it could be a part of his job. Life at my house could be a bit unsettling. But full of loud fun.

The reality of the unexpected did strike us after the guidance speeches as Ingrid's father died in a plane crash the following summer. We went through a pretty hard time. As her father died just after dropping her family off at their family cottage and was just returning across the lake to pick up their luggage. A heart attack on the way to pick up the luggage. A heart attack which saw him crash into the lake 25 miles from shore.

We were given our first lesson of mortality happening at a pretty young age. Her father was a young 48 year old man. A man who would always be remembered for playing the piano and engaging us in witty, intellectual, conversation. He would be remembered for building his airplane in the backyard, his love of the English language and the University in which he taught it in, and most importantly he would be remembered for his infinite love of his family. It was so hard not to have him in our lives. The sanctity of reliability was shaken from our very core.

A young broken heart. And as the years have gone on I have attended a great deal of funerals for my friends from my school. I have lost two to suicide. An old boyfriend of mine took his life. I have lost three friends to car accidents. And the irony resonates to my heart whenever I attend a funeral, that maybe our bitter, guidance teacher did have something in his lessons.

He never did teach how to find the words of comfort for the widows, the husbands or the mothers of the children left behind. He never taught how to comfort the broken hearted.

I have had a great deal of things that I have 'satisfaction' with. I have known a great deal of happiness. I have never had a problem with seizing the day, and enjoying my 'moments' of satisfaction for indeed sometimes they do sustain you and carry you through the roughest of times.

But I have known much sadness. I have lost too, too many friends, to cancer and other tragic maladies. I have lost them before the age of forty and a great deal of me is bitter about it. I am so sad that I can not call my lost friends and talk with them. I am sad that I will not have the chance to have a glass of wine and watch our children play and grow up together. I am so sad that my friends' children will not truly have a memory of their departed mothers and fathers, or as me as their auntie. I am so sad some moments were taken for granted.

And today, Ingrid unexpectantly came to my door.

Ingrid rang my doorbell.

And I answered the door. I looked at her in surprise.

And she cried. And I hugged her on my doorstep with the cold chilling wind on her back and in my chest she wept and I was waiting for her to get her breath, waiting to hear what was so terribly wrong in her world.

She said as she sobbed...

'Ohhhhhh Pendullum. I am so very scared. I am so very, very, scared. I have cancer. I have cancer, Pendullum. I need you.'

And dear reader....

I am so very scared.

I am so very, very, sad to what road lies ahead.

And I do not know how to mend this broken heart.

No one gave me that important life's lesson...

47 comments:

Sayre said...

Oh, Pend... I'm so sorry. You cannot mend the broken heart. You can only keep it company, weep with it and try to make it laugh once in a while.

I have been lending my ear to broken hearts a lot lately. And there is a chance that mine may be broken soon as well (we are waiting to retest in a couple of months). It IS scary - but knowing that you are loved and have people to share it with makes a huge difference.

Deanna said...

Oh, I am so sorry. I wish I had the perfect answer for you , the right words to give you to soothe both your heart and hers. Just know that you and she are in my thoughts and prayers...

Kristin said...

Oh, no no no no... I am so sorry. So very sorry.

I have lost 2 dear friends to cancer and I know the fear and worry... but, sometimes, people get better and they beat it and you are all stronger and even more full of love.

I'll keep all of you in my thoughts.

Wendy said...

How awful. I really hope Ingrid ends up a success story.

Her Bad Mother said...

I'm so sorry. I just went through this with my mother (skin cancer, which thankfully has the best of the cancer prognoses, but still). And no, nothing prepares you for such breakage. And there is no glue.

((()))

Mamma said...

Oh but you gave her exactly what she needed...you!!

What a rough road ahead. I am so sorry. Thank god you have each other.

Janet a.k.a. "Wonder Mom" said...

I'm so sorry Pendullum.

You may not know what to do in your head but your heart will guide you in helping your best friend.

Just be there for her and be strong. You are such a caring person and that is why she came to you...You will be strong for her...You will help her the best way you can. Even if it is with a hug.

I wish I could hug you right now.

urban-urchin said...

Oh no. I am so sorry. I am going through this right now with a beloved uncle. I hope and pray that Ingrid will recover, and that you will be able to be a support to her.

Gina said...

I will keep you, Ingrid, and her family in my prayers, Pendullum.

For some things, it takes such a long time to mend those little rips and tears in the heart. The scar tissue builds over them, but it never is quite the same, is it?

Andie D. said...

Ah fuck.

It's so hard to have a good friend hurt in that way.

I went through this recently with a friend who had moved thousands of miles away. When she called me to say she has breast cancer, I literally couldn't speak for a moment. Thinking about it still gives me a catch in my throat.

I make an effort to call her often, ask her about her treatments, do my own research, be as involved as possible. Listen A LOT. And not make our relationship all about the cancer. I also end every phone call with an "I love you."

I think it's time for me to write her a letter stating just what she means to me. Thanks for the reminder.

hautemama said...

I am so very sorry to hear about your friend's prognosis. It's hard to know what to say isn't it? I'm sure just being there for her is enough. Stay positive pend!

Big hugs.

Kevin Charnas said...

...I...I'm praying. And sending my love. And my most wonderful of thoughts.

She came to you because you're an extraordinary person, Pend.

You are brave.
And courageous.
And you DO have faith.
Even if you don't always think that you do.

I know you, Pend. Have faith in yourself...you'll know what to do.
I know you will.

Yours,
Kevin

kim said...

Ohhhh Pen *hugs* I wish there was something I could do ..or say
I am so glad she has you, I'll be thinking about you both

Attila The Mom said...

Oh, I'm so sorry. Sending all my most healing thoughts to both of you. :-(

Sarah said...

You and Ingrid are in my thoughts and prayers.

wayabetty said...

Oh my goodness Pendullum! The last few paragraphs took my breath away with chills down my spine. I'm so terribly sorry to hear this devastating news. But Ingrid is very fortunate to have such great friend like you who, no doubt, will be with her throughout the whole ordeal.

I really do wish her luck and many prayers go out to her and her family!

Christina_the_wench said...

Add more prayers and positive thoughts from my corner of the world. And a huge hug for you as well.

chelle said...

HUGS!!!! I am so sorry ...

Becky said...

Pendullum- I'm so sorry to hear about your friend Ingrid. I will keep her, and you, in my thoughts and prayers.

Andrea said...

Oh P. I'm so sorry.

A broken heart must heal on its own, but it is nice for it to know it is not alone.

And Ingrid still has a chance. It's not over. Bad news, but not a death sentence. My hope is with you and with Ingrid.

Andrea

St Jude said...

You cannot mend broken hearts sweetie, you can only nurse them until they mend themselves. It takes a lot of time and courage, but it can be done with love and support. x

Rock the Cradle said...

My heart hurts for you.
I wish I could send you all the strength and courage the world has.

But it seems you already have a tremendous store of both those things.

That talent you have for finding peace and satisfaction from moment to moment can help you and Ingrid now.

Catch said...

Oh Pen, I am sorry. And you cannot mend her broken heart anymore than you can fly. But you can be with her and comfort her and give her hope. She came to you b/c there is a closeness there that she may not feel with anyone else. When one of my dear friends across the street got breast cancer I went over as much as I could and we sat on her porch swing and talked about everything...when we were young and both stationed in Ft Bragg with our husbands. Our sons are only about 3 weeks apart so we were pregnant together in Ft Bragg and we talked about how we were always looking for a good place to have lunch. We have had many good times. And I am happy to add that she is cancer free now.

There is always hope Pen. Just be what you have always been to her, her friend and confidant. Let her pour her heart out to you and support her as best as you can.

Your teacher was so right. We have to seize the moment b/c we never know what is ahead of us. So yes, we can find enjoyment in a cool glass of water on a hot day, a breeze blowing across your face, watching your child or grandchild smile. So many things to enjoy.

I am sorry for your friend, I will pray for her...and you. I deal with people dieing in my work. Some are frightened, some are accepting ( they are all usually elderly) And when they want to talk I try to comfort them. One man I took care of was afraid, I gave him a small glass angel to hold in his hand when he was afraid....when I went to his funeral he still had it in his hand. They buried him with it. I was so happy that the angel gave him so much comfort. Small things that we do for people mean so much too them.

God bless you Pen. You are a good person, you can do this. You can help her.She came to you for a reason.She needs your strength to get through this.

Amber said...

Years later, it's amazing the impact the words your teacher had on you in that guidance class, even though most of us are too immature at that age to materialize anything. I don't think any of us could really comprehend the amount of joys AND hardship that lie ahead.

I'm so sorry for your friend; very few of us go through life without someone we love being affected by cancer, present company included. My husband is a survivor....

chichimama said...

I am so sorry. So very very sorry. I wish there was an easy way to heal both the emotional and physical pain.

You are a wonderful friend. And you will continue to be a wonderful friend. Your heart will know what to do.

strauss said...

I don't think I could say anything better than what Sayre had to say. She said everything perfectly.
I am sorry to hear about your friend - such scary times. .
We didn't have Guidence class when I was growing up, I wish we did, sounds like opportunity for some intriging discussion.
My expereince with the loss of loved ones is limited and began relatively late in life...interesting how some people haev to deal with such issues early in life and others the multiple deaths of much loved friends and family, while others, liek me, are spared....at least for another day.

mad muthas said...

well, you and ingrid are very lucky to have each other - nothing much else i can say...

Tuesday Girl said...

I am so sorry for you and for your friend.

kim said...

Your writing is beautiful.

I am so sorry for you and your friend. My prayers are with you and your friend.

Pattie said...

I wish I knew the answer to that question. I am so very sorry about your friend's cancer.I will hope and pray that she receives the best treatment for this and recovers.

She sought the solace she needed in your friendship to help her get through this difficult time. I will be thinking of you....

Queen of the Mayhem said...

I am so sorry to hear about your friend! I think just being there for her and allowing her to share her fears with you, is a huge help! Anything you can do to take her mind of her sorrows is a blessing! Facing mortality is one of life's cruelest lessons. The only comfort ( and sometimes it isn't near enough) is that something much greater lies ahead for those who truly believe. Then again, that is not always the most comforting thought for someone facing a terminal illness! I hope you are able to find the strength to help your friend. Something tells me you will! Good luck!

Oh, The Joys said...

I think your presence is the gift. There are no right words.

ablondeblogger said...

I am sitting here with a mix of sadness, shock and anger. Anger at this disease that has touched so many people....too, too many people. It is just wrong and unfair.

I am so sorry, Pen. Just be there for her. That's all you can do.

There's a group called Online Angels. Google them and you'll get their website.

They will send a box of handmade items, including an afghan (which they call a "loveghan"), all free of charge. They are an amazing group of volunteers!

I've had them send boxes to my relatives that have or are battling cancer and it has really lifted their spirits.

Hang in there, Pen. You and your friend will both be in my prayers.

Grim Reality Girl said...

Pend,

I am so very sorry. Cancer is the most horrible word. I am praying for Ingrid. I will think happy thoughts for her -- the kind where she is one of the lucky ones and is cured. I'm also praying for strength for you and all who support her. Even the prayers of a stranger can give strength.

I wish I had words that could make this better. Someone said "Courage is fear that has said it's prayers." I like that quote.

JLee said...

Aw Pen, I am always so touched by your posts and am so sad to hear about your longtime friend. As you know, cancer has touched my life in many ways as well and we never know quite how to handle those feelings of sadness, anger and helplessness. All I can do is send loving thoughts and hugs your way. :)

carrie said...

There is no manual for that. I am so sorry and I wish there were words that would guide you and your friend through the journey that lies ahead...

All I can say is be there. Be present, be persistant, be persuasive in her life. She needs you and you need to be there. And when you're not feeling strong enough, make sure you have some strong shoulders to lean upon, because we all need those.

You are in my thoughts.

Carrie

Chantal said...

Pendullum, I am so sorry! Prayers to your dear friend and you, her awesome support.

crazymumma said...

Oh, sadness. I am so sorry, I hope she gets better. I really do.

Stepping Over the Junk said...

I'm so sorry. And to think I am sitting here wallowing in misery of love that might be losing, and i have my health and my family has their health. This was beautifully written and has given me alot more to think about today.

Mama Drama Jenny said...

I'm usually just a lurker here but I wanted to say that I'm thinking of you and praying for you and your friend.

Lisa said...

I am so very sorry. I understand as a childhood friend of mine has ALS. It is so very painful. It is heartbreaking.

Am sending your friend "healthy vibes" and prayers.

You and Ingrid are in my thoughts.

bananas62 said...

I'm so very sorry to hear about Ingrid, She came to you because she knew you'd help her through this. By being there to hold her hand, let her lean her head on your shoulder. Sitting in silence, yet knowing what the other one is thinking. She lucky to have you.
You know in life, our parents tried to protect us from the tragedies such as death, illness, suicide, etc. They do this out of love, unfortunately (or fortunately) some people then, don't even experience such tragedies until later in life and they feel truly helpless.
As a teen you thought your teacher was probably talking to hear himself talk now... as an adult you know just what he was trying to do...

(((hugs to you and ingrid)))

KC said...

Hope. Hope can do wonders for the soul, for the body. I am a big believer in faith and hope. There are so many factors that figure into prognosis. Hope and pray for the good ones.

Lady M said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. Sending her thoughts of good medicine, determination, and luck.

Ruth Dynamite said...

Ugh - a total punch in the gut.

She came to you for a reason, and all you can do is be there for her. Hold her hand, and help her focus on those small moments of "satisfaction."

Gingers Mom said...

My heart is aching as I read this. I too have a friend like this and I cannot imagine. I am so so sorry.

shoparound said...

Ingrid is lucky to have you for a friend to help her through this. You'll be strong for her and she'll need that. I'll hope for the best. Hang in there.