Beautiful, broken things


We all love beautiful things, but there is the problem with them. They are all so fragile.

China, crystal, hearts, memories, promises and trust. All are very beautiful — and breakable too. Watching our children grow up we try and protect them from so much. We protect their bodies from bumps and bruises, and as they grow older, attempt to protect their hearts from harm. With the latter, we will always fail. Even as we cuddle and coddle, there will be bumps and bruises from sharp corners or sharp words.


BoyWonder has a scar on his chest from a piece of glass when he was 3, and another — figurative but not literally — from his first heartache at age 16. Losing a good friend or a first love is never easy — on a child or the parent. Parents say, “This hurts me more than it hurts you.” I believe it is almost true.


There is a moment when you are holding your child, and you think your own heart will break because you cannot “fix” this. There is no Band-Aid big enough to cover a bruised or broken heart. So, you console and listen and try to explain away their pain.

It is a life lesson that is hard to live yourself and almost harder to watch your child go through. It is, however, a wake-up call that even youth doesn’t save anyone from heartache. It happens to everyone eventually.

Life is full of feelings

It is how we know we’re alive. Today, however, you know they just feel broken. In fact, they will look back on this time with a certain bittersweet fondness. Sometimes, what appears to be something falling apart is actually something better coming together. At any age, you should never give up on better, brighter days.


I cried my eyelashes off in the 11th grade, sure I would never love again. Miraculously, I did. Of course, teenagers don’t want to hear about the Dark Ages when we dated and dinosaurs roamed the earth. I get it. Knowing it will heal doesn’t make any break — physical or emotional — any less painful when it happens. Most people find the promise of feeling better “soon” to be an impossibly frustrating date.

“Buck up, kid” is not really very comforting advice. Still, we sigh and we try.

Clean sweep

One of the post-breakup services I offer is what I call a “clean sweep.” We pack up all the mementos. The photos, corsages, ticket stubs and stuffed animals are all stored — not thrown away. I believe in keeping the memories. I just don’t think they need to be too close at hand. It’s so easy to trip over memories when you are trying to move on. Even the best cleaning person, however, misses things.

There is a bracelet. Beautiful, delicate and personally engraved. She wore it everywhere but soccer practice — fearful it might break. She loved that bracelet, but as often happens, sometimes relationships break before bracelets do. It happens. Still, it was a beautiful birthday gift from a beautiful person, who will always hold a special place in her heart. The bracelet, the memories, they all go into that place where we pick up the pieces and pack up the memories.

We will tuck it carefully away where we keep all the beautiful, broken things. In the midst of a breaking process, we have to believe eventually feelings come full circle, and things can and do feel whole again. So, we pack up the memories, and the jewelry and the pieces of a friendship.

Open arms

As a parent, we wonder how to unravel someone we all grew to love from the fabric of our family. We decide that maybe, if we’re lucky, we won’t have to. The definition of a break is an opening. When we open our hearts, our heads and our family circles to envelop new people, it’s nice if we can keep them too.

I find it interesting that I was often warned that my children might date people I didn’t like. The greater warning should have been that they would date people I do.

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