My dear son,
The lucky ones are those who lie to us about the pain because the truth is hard to admit when it is the most painful thing that you have ever experienced in your young life.
In your carefree days you scraped your knees, you pricked your fingers you fell from trees and felt the puncture of bee and wasp stings. But this pain grates against your spirit. This pain stabs something tender and vulnerable inside you. This pain makes you feel like you’ve fallen into an abyss. This pain hurts every fabric and fiber of your being.
Heartache is the one pain that your mother and I cannot protect you from. It is the one ailment that we cannot mitigate or purge no matter how much we try. It is a broken part of you that cannot be healed with a simple co-pay and an indifferent practitioner who will tell you things like, ‘drink more water and eat more fruits’ because this pain is incendiary even when it feels cold. It is fatal and altogether invigorating because you know for the first time that it is possible to have a piece of you that can exist inside someone else and vice versa. You now know that there is a part of you that dies every time that special someone goes away and is resurrected in you every time they are near you.
A word you shared. A scent you both smelled. A song that was sung at the exact moment when you realized that this person means something to you and you to them. These and every experience you have felt together was fuel on the pyre of love that is hard to extinguish.
But old people have forgotten. Instead of love we call it teenage angst or puppy love. We dismiss it because we think you don’t know what you’re talking about; you’re too young to know what love is when the truth is succinct in intertwined hearts no matter how many years they have been beating – love is love and love hurts even when it feels right or goes wrong.
As older, erudite travelers on the road of life we have experienced enough heartache to write, produce and release our own CD of country ballads. But it also means that we can be jaded, our emotions bored and cynical when we witness teenage love. It’s as unfair today as it was when we were experiencing the same emotions at your age and being dismissed by our own parents. There is little if any sympathy for what you are experiencing because we think that our own battles, our own grown up stuff that we need to properly promptly address trumps what we perceive to be the naiveté of teenage heartache and therefore discount the raw and unintelligible feelings that you’re obviously feeling for the very first time!
It’s selfish of me to confuse your feelings as juvenile because what you’re feeling is as grown up an emotion as anyone will ever feel in life – love.
I’m here to tell you that your heartache matters. As your parents we validate that what you are feeling is hard. It sucks, it’s real, it’s upsetting and it bites because that’s what love does to us – it twists us, jerks us, manipulates, warms, befuddles, scares, enlightens and depresses us.
But that is the beauty of it all, if in fact a silver lining can be found in the dark and foreboding clouds of heartache: You’re now learning to love. It is a powerful, intoxicating emotion that is by far the most complex of any that you will feel in your life. And even though your mom and I cannot take away the pain of heartache, we will always be available to love you and support you through this, one of life’s most difficult trials.
We may not always have the right advice about romance because to be honest we’re still learning this love thing ourselves all these years later. But by overcoming these trials of the heart we are finding deeper meaning and understanding in our love for each other.
In love and in heartache we become stronger. We become more resilient. We become more careful. Sometimes we may find ourselves being careless, other times less trusting; sometimes more open and other times less discriminatory but all the while it is love that is making us whole and then tearing us apart until finally we find that one person that we put up with and yet we cannot live without.
There are those who will tell us that time heals all wounds. I believe that time will heal the pain but there will always be a scar to remind us of how it felt no matter how much time has passed. And this is why I consider myself an expert as have many who have come before you – I know your pain!
A broken heart is not a trifling thing. Love is as problematic as it is blissful. I want to lie to you like the lucky ones who have never experienced heartache before and tell you that it doesn’t hurt and that this stuff is easy. But that would only be helping me, not you because as a parent it is hard for us to watch our children experience the pain that we so intimately know.
I know it may not help you much right now while you’re hurting and while you’re trying to sort these emotions out in your head and in your heart but I want you know this one thing that will never change – your mother and I love you and always will and we will help you get through this.
Gather yourself together and fight on.
That’s what we do.
I love you