“My daddy is dead,” my son says to me as we are about to head out for the morning, “but I still like him.” He is four years old, and in this instant, he has never been more right, speaking a truth many adults can’t even say out loud, that just because someone leaves us, through death, through divorce, through some other means, just because someone says “no” or says “no more,” doesn’t mean the love itself leaves, doesn’t mean that we can erase all we have become. There is no reset button by which you need to remove entirely what you feel for one so that someday there is room for another. The heart expands to fit the shape of all the things you give it, and so there is always room for more, more sadness, more anger, more regret, especially more love. The heart, as it turns out, is not a finite thing.
There were days when I opened myself, my heart a box of stars, all bright with want, learned instead I was consolation, only something to alleviate grief. There were days when my tongue seemed as if dumb, bleeding words no one understood. There were days when my mouth had no words, when, if I had opened it, there might have been screaming. There were days when my body fit the bed imperfectly, so many sheets, not enough skin, as if I held my breath I might disappear entirely. There are days when I feel broken, on the long nights after the long days on the long weeks, when it is dark and I feel particularly not heard. When I feel so very unseen.
But the heart is not immutable, not unchanging, not a hard vessel one must pour from before refilling. I can grieve and I can love. I can be angry and I can love. I can love and I can love. And I can move forward, even if never entirely on.
The heart is not a finite thing.