I can recognize her heartache. The same thing occurs with each breakup. Her sparkle fades. Her eyes become lackluster. Her bubble is deflated. I watch her come home and lay around. She goes to bed in the afternoon. She doesn't talk. She doesn't play music. She doesn't read. She doesn't touch. She pulls into herself. She sleeps fitfully, unable to get comfortable. She barely eats. She drops weight. Our home grows the silence of tombs.


There is not much that can be done to shake this cloud. It has to run its course. I don't like to see her hurting. I will let her be for two weeks before I say, "OK, what happened? I can recognize the signs". And then the flood gates open and the dam releases its held back volume. and she talks and she throws her head onto my lap. As I stroke her hair, she lets it all out. I listen and then we talk.

This last time, I told her I was worried about her. Why? She asks me. I say it is because I have not taught her how to make a relationship work. Because I don't know how. Because I haven't taught her she has to keep communication open, because I shut down. Because I have taught her to hold it all in instead of letting it out. Because if I didn't poke holes in the walls she erects, she would spiral downhill trapped within her melancholy. I ask her what she is going to do when I am not around and her cousin is not around and she is on her own? Who will keep the cracks open for her when she is busy slathering on more cement? I tell her that if she has tried to fix it, I mean really tried because she wants it repaired, but can't, then she needs to shake it off, pick herself up, and keep on going. She gives me The Look through damp eyes and I say "Do as I say not as I do." This time when she goes to sleep it is the deep sleep of exhaustion after a hard work out.


Her cousin makes her go shopping with her. It takes a while, but she warms up to a favorite past time of theirs. They spend an evening out together going from store to store making each other try on the most outrageous outfits. It's not about the shopping, it's about spending easy time together away from family troubles and boyfriend troubles. They don't talk about either. She comes home relaxed, hugs me and goes to bed.


"Can you take me to the mall today?" she asks. Sometime in the night she has decided something important. She is going to her senior prom, regardless. She is going solo. She asks me if I will pay for half. Of course I will, how can I say no? I see her old self coming back. She is looking for a particular dress, not an ordinary dress. She wants extraordinary. She finds it. Her eyes light up, she is stunning. She is getting back to herself. This is not about the dress. The dress is only a catalyst. This is about feeling good about herself. She doesn't want him to feel bad for breaking her heart, but she does want him to stop for a moment and think "Damn, what did I let go?".


She went out on her first date since the break up. She spent an hour "getting ready". He picked her up at the house, did the obligatory meet the parent hand shake and small talk. He was cordial, he was smiling. He could not take his eyes off her. He brought her a rose. He took her to a steak house, then he took her to Spiderman III. I imagine that he held the door open for her, because that is what I want for her. Someone to hold doors open and make her smile and treat her like she is the valuable treasure that she is.

She told me she had a fun time. She didn't expect all that. Usually when she is asked to the movies, it is just that. No frills, no extras, no close attention, just a movie. He treated her differently. He paid attention to her. She liked it.

"So the night went well then?" I ask. She gets that twinkle in her eye and laughs. It went well, but her first impression was totally blown out the door. When I ask what she means, she says .."On the way home at a stop light, my stomach suddenly seized. I got sick out the door and grossed out the driver of the car next to us." "Well, at least it wasn't in his car", but I am also laughing.


Relationships build, relationships crumble. Spring shifts to summer shifts to autumn. Grandparents, parents and children all dance the same dance. We walk the same path out of sync. We want to spare our children the growing pains we have felt, knowing full well that they will experience them anyway. We try so hard to make good impressions, carefully crafting the image we want to present. We want so much to be liked, we cover up what we believe to be imperfections. In the end, we are who we are and stuff happens as it happens. We aren't perfect. Sometimes we click and sometimes we don't. The point is to keep trying until we find something that does and to be there for those you love when they don't.

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