Lucy Jensen

What becomes of a broken heart? In the olden days, when romantic liaisons fell apart, ladies would return home quietly to lick their wounds in private, take care of elderly relatives, or forever wear black, in mourning for the life they had wanted and lost. They would sink quietly into the shadows of life (“Better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all”). Forever scarred, they might as well be widows.

Nowadays, the young ladies, having fallen off the horse, get right back on it. My daughter moved down to Shell Beach to start her new life a few years ago and she made a heck of a go of it — new job, friends, apartment, boyfriend. She introduced us and all our friends to a lovely part of the world we had never known before. We thought she was all set and going to be there forever; but forever is a very long time and things fell apart with the boyfriend; she also hated her job. She could have fixed the job situation; the other not so much.

Before we knew it, she was coming home again. I remember very clearly how difficult it is to return home once you have left, especially after a good chunk of time like that. I had to do the same thing many years ago with my parents and I clearly recall how difficult it was to be back there in that house with those people. I loved them very much, but I did not want to live with them anymore. Those were tricky days — my mother asking me if I would be back in for dinner, my father asking me awkward questions about my future plans.

It was just dreadful going backwards in life like that and I didn’t stay long. But those things can change too, and, in modern times, it is very difficult for young people to live by themselves; so, returning home is not such an unusual event, if only for a little while. Home is a place to take stock, regroup, enjoy home-cooked food, do laundry without needing coins and think about what is next. It’s a precious safe haven when you need it, as many of us do in life.

We rescued our daughter and her belongings from Shell Beach, dragging a cumbersome trailer behind us as we returned north again. Her dad had told her previously that he wouldn’t be moving her again — and he chose to remind her of this on our journey home — and here we were. He got a mouthful from me for that. She cried all the way home and for days after.

Then the light came on; she was tired of crying and she realized that boyfriend was not really the man she had wanted him to be. She was more grieving the life she had wanted to have, than the one she actually did. She had also adored her apartment near the water. I told her that was just geography; in time, she could recreate that.

She went on to reconnect with old friends and do some fun things. The two of us went for a run around the Bay and ate clam chowder on the wharf. She got her old job back and caught up on her sleep. These were not the days she had planned for herself, but these were the ones she needed, apparently. She helped her Mum out with poor old sick dad and started to clean out the closets and clear cabinets in the home. It started to appear that everything does happen for a reason.

She had not planned on returning to her childhood house — we had not known she was going to need to — but here she was; and we were ultimately so very happy to have her back with us, diluting the difficult times we were having all by ourselves and adding an extra layer of nursing care and ability to the mix. We needed the help and she needed the port in the storm — and what a wonderfully symbiotic combination that can be, when the time is right.

What becomes of a broken heart in modern times is that you return home to heal. You find your peaceful place with the ones that truly love you and you take the time you need to come back to rebuild yourself and come back to life. When you are in your mid-20s, it is never easy to come back to someone else’s house and pick up where you left off, because you are not the same person anymore and neither is the place you left behind. But this is what reminds you that good family is the backbone in your life and the eternal bonds of support that make you who you are.

I have a feeling our girl is going to be just fine. She will find herself again, she will be stronger and wiser for all her experiences and she will, ultimately, be able to move on and out into the world much better able to cope and manage all over again. For our part, our house will likely be a lot cleaner when she leaves again, our possessions nicely culled and her dad on his way back to good health. These are reasons to be cheerful. Her damaged heart will heal and her spirits rise. She will come to understand that the road she was on was not the one the universe had planned for her.

I told her not to be sad that it is over, but to be happy that it happened. That’s what my fabulous Granny Myrtle told me on more than one occasion, having lost three husbands in her life, plus a crossroads where she nearly married the fourth, before he too keeled. Life is one long journey full of colorful pictures, events and people. Seldom do the same images and characters ride you through to the very end.

“I thought we’d be together forever,” she cried to me. I reminded her that forever was a very long time and most of us don’t get there.

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