Will someday split you open
Even if your life is now a cage,
For a divine seed, the crown of destiny,
Is hidden and sown on an ancient, fertile plain
That you hold the title to.
Hafiz, In A Tree House, tr. Daniel Ladinskey
The things that have split me wide open. Sometimes they are overwhelming moments of love: The long breakfasts that turned into lunch with the girl from NY who would become my beloved. Each of the three children that she gave birth to, sometimes in trauma, who were placed into my arms. Just the thought, at the end of any day, that I get to return to my beloved–just the return to her–breaks my heart open.
Sometimes it’s helplessness: sitting by the bed of one of our children or my wife while they suffer through a fever, a surgery, an infection that clearly has them in agonizing pain. Keeping vigil with my grandparents as they left this world. Watching, tending, and saying goodbye to a beloved pet with our children has, every single time, broken my heart open.
Sometimes it is rage and anger: one of my students returned home one day to find her parents had been taken away into INS incarceration because their visa papers were improperly filed. Her house was surrounded by police tape. They were here legally in this country. It broke my heart open.
Sometimes is it sheer grief: the call many years ago now to come to the hospital. The little boy not quite two, had had a cold, and then went to the hospital, was now lying in his mother’s and father’s arms, dead. Walking with them through the many dark nights that followed broke my heart open as we were raising our own two year-old at the time.
The sound of a mockingbird in the earliest days of spring, calling to its mate in the hour just before sunrise, every time, every year, breaks my heart open.
And all of this that breaks my heart open, is really just one thing. The power of love.
Be advised: love will break your heart open. However dark it seems at first, or confusing, or mind-boggling, your life will change forever.