On the airplane I sat by a beautiful and accomplished psychologist "Ann." Newly retired, Ann was on a journey of discovering herself beyond her professional identity. During the flight Ann shared her new hobbies and stronger commitment to existing passions.
Ann's stories grew deeper during our brief time together. She met her first husband at work. On their first date he proposed. They dated for one year and got married. They enjoyed a happy relationship. He was calm and peaceful and never raised his voice to her or the children. It was clear Ann continued to admire him in many ways.
Ann's husband passed away from illness. She confirmed it was the hardest day of her life. For six years following his death, Ann couldn't talk about him for more than a minute without tears streaming down her sweet face. She even cried as she told me about his passing. The heartache was etched into her spirit. She couldn't completely eradicate the brokenness of losing this man who so lovingly touched her life.
Ann and I spoke of how the passing of time softens difficult life stories whichserve as growth opportunities. In the beginning a story unfolds, and we assign intense emotions and thoughts to it. Over time the story doesn't feel as heavy or dramatic as when it first took place. We then reach for another perspective, and possibly choose to accept and learn rather than to suffer.
Sometimes a story's memory becomes an invaluable part of who we are. So what are we supposed to do with it? Ann's explanations sparked this idea: if the story is worth keeping, the heart makes room for it.
Years later, Ann remarried another brilliant and tender-hearted man. She is content and enjoys her time with him. And yet Ann looked at me softly while placing her hand on her heart. She says she is keeping her broken heart because Husband #1 lives there. This is Ann's way of finding acceptance of the situation and feeling love. Her heart has made room for this enduring story.
What about you dear Reader? Think about the stories still living in your heart. Hopefully they generate positive feelings, and enable you to thrive and learn how to love and be loved better.