Monday, February 14, 2011

Love and Heartbreak

 On a day when so many people are talking about love, the word heartbreak seems inappropriate and out of place. But love is many things and a heart isn't always broken because love is lost or unrequited. Sometimes love is the very thing that helps us heal.

Yesterday my brother, John, updated his status on Facebook. He wrote that my nephew had gone to bed in tears. Apparently, after spending two days working on a Lego model, Isaac had been re-docking the satellite onto the space shuttle when one false move had resulted in nothing but a pile of plastic bricks.

Comments began to go back and forth. At first things were relatively light hearted. Surely he could do it again?  After all, building the model is half the fun. My daughter was wistful, longing for the days when all there was to worry about was a broken toy. Even my brother made a "Houston we have a problem" type joke. The story was sad and sweet, but Isaac would recover. Tomorrow was another day.

But a few minutes later my brother added another comment. This one completely changed the tone, John wrote (and I quote), "He managed to sob, "I'm more than heartbroken", before finally going to sleep."

At that point, my own heart seemed to twist and break, a lump rose in my throat and my eyes filled up.
For a nine year old boy to declare that he was 'more than heartbroken', meant that he must have been feeling very, very sad. In addition to this, Isaac is not a crying kind of boy. I remember the last time he suffered a loss that had ended in tears, and it was several years ago. He'd been on a roller-coaster and, while traveling at high speed, the wind blew off his favorite hat.....

I pictured him, tears rolling down his face as he watched the Lego spew across the table and the floor. I felt helpless. There was nothing I could do.

I was curious to see what is was that he'd been building and, thinking I might be able to offer John some long distant advice, (don't ask me what),  I looked the model up on line.

It was not a straight forward affair. Rebuilding it was going to take up lots of time. Isaac is an incredibly bright kid (and that's not just a proud Auntie talking), he doesn't give up easily and he is a Lego genius. Watching him build something is like watching a film clip from the 1920's. His hands fly about so fast,  his movements are unreal. But the space-shuttle looked detailed and complicated. I also notice it was targeted for age 16+.....  No wonder Mr. Lego himself had been so upset. Imagine, all that work ending up as nothing but a sorry mess. I wished I was five minutes and not five thousand miles away. I wanted to  race round and and help my brother repair the damage. I wanted to make Isaac feel better. To help heal is broken heart

  John did indeed spend the evening working away.  He loves his son and he is a fantastic dad. Instead of relaxing and preparing for the week ahead, he crouched over what must have been complicated instructions and scrabbled about for pieces in the pile and on the floor. Those things are tricky enough when the parts are neatly packaged up in little bags. Searching for miniscule lights and levers, some of which may have skidded and spun every-which-way across the room, took devotion and a lot of time.

But it ended up being worth it. I contacted John today and he told me that the first thing Isaac asked when he woke up was if the model was repaired. When John told him that it was, Isaac beamed, his face lit up, and he ran downstairs to see.

Sometimes we have to let our children find away to get over heartbreak by themselves, and sometimes we can't do anything practical, just let them know we're there.  But when they are young, there is no better way to make them feel supported and secure than by taking positive steps to heal a broken heart.

 I am happy because Isaac is happy. And I'm happy that, because Isaac is happy, John is happy.

And so, on a day when we are talking and thinking about love and what it means, this sums it up for me........

"Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own."
 (Robert Heinlein. 1907 -1988)

Happy Valentines Day.

P.S A huge thank you to John and Isaac for allowing me to share.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful post Rachael. Parents are lucky when there is actually something they can stay up all night to do to mend their children's broken hearts... there are too many situations when we can't do that, and it is a gift when we can. Isaac will no doubt have other heartbreaks he will have to get over, but he'll also always know the power of his dad's love (as well as his aunt's!) And by the way, that is one complicated Lego creation!!