“Stared at that guitar in the museum in Tennessee. Name plate on the glass brought back 20 melodies. Scars upon its face told of all the times it fell. Singing all the stories he could tell.” Jimmy Buffett
There are words that can act like triggers and instantly transport us back, somewhere in time and especially to life’s most emotionally charged moments. Where do we go when we are transported? For the memories are so clear you can still feel, smell, taste, hear whatever was going on around you when it first happened. It’s like the event happens again. Does it? I wonder.
Heartbreak. 1987. I go back to the University of Minnesota hospital shortly before my dad’s death. It was the night both his legs were amputated after already having lost both hands. I can see my brother standing on one side of me and my uncle on the other. I can remember leaning against a cinder block wall. I can see the outline of each cinder block and the light grayish beige color of the wall paint. I can feel how hard and cold that wall was. I can see the fluorescent lighting and hear the sound of the gurney wheels on the linoleum floor as they rolled my father towards us. I can feel the tearing sensation in my heart as I stood there wanting nothing more than to make my dad well and whole again and knowing I could do neither.
I wanted so much to smile for him and say something encouraging and I wondered how I would. I can remember being 22 but feeling older and more tired than the oldest person who ever lived. I remember his cries as they moved him from the gurney into his bed and I remember the strength I asked for coming to me exactly when I thought I couldn’t possibly have any. Unseen arms wrapped around me and energy that couldn’t have been mine supported my legs and allowed me to walk into his room. I stood beside him and with a smile, and yes, tears in my eyes, the words “Hi Daddy. I love you,” flowed from me.
And when I think of the word heartbreak it will forever and always be entwined with its often more quiet companion, strength.
Photo credit surfwithberserk.com/the-magic-of-a-sunset