Posted by Heather Krill in Life After Paralysis on April 20, 2021
First published on the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation…
Dear Heartbroken at Home:
You may think I’m writing to you, and if my words give you comfort, I’m grateful. But really my intended audience is a young man, a fellow writer, Zack Collie, who recently shared his first heartbreak on the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation blog. But this idea of sharing our first love and loss story is one I’ve been mulling around for years as a high school English teacher. Students write all the time about feeling heartbroken and alone because “so and so” left them or dumped them or ended their relationship.
My first reaction is to hug them, which I can’t really do anymore because of COVID and the Official Teacher Code of Ethics. However, depending on the student, I try to listen if they want to talk, tell them we understand, remember, and learn from those losses. I used the pronoun “we” because me from 30 years ago is a little different from the person I’ve grown into. Likely our words don’t really help at the moment because they feel as if no one has ever felt so very sad in the history of time.
Zack, I’m so sorry to read of your first heartbreak. Your recent brave blog about accepting the loss and trying to move forward despite the sadness likely reached and moved every adult human on our planet, at least those who can read and choose to read the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation blog. While I don’t have a spinal cord injury, my husband does, and I remember him telling me on the day he proposed that he knew when he found the right person to love, he would never worry about whether or not he was enough. He dated a lot between the time of his spinal cord injury at 25 until when we met and fell in love almost a decade later. He was 35, and I was 31.
We shared a lot of heartbreak and loss between the two of us before finding one another. But when people say, “You are young; give it time; there are plenty of fish in the sea,” it doesn’t actually help. You loved that fish, and she, for whatever reason, could not love you back the same way– and that, my young, strong friend, has nothing to do with your injury. I met you only one time over Zoom when the bloggers gathered for a holiday coffee talk. You joined us for a bit, and then had life business to attend to. But in those words, you shared with the group, the words you share on the page each time you submit an article for publication, you demonstrate the best attitude one can tackle life with. You impress me, and you will continue to make a difference in the world for humanity by your contributions. Keep living your life that way, and one day, another young woman will be brave, beautiful, smart, funny, and strong enough to try to keep up– maybe even for a lifetime together.
Thinking of you!