People say that we see what we want to see. I agree to a certain extent. I’m on the lookout for hearts that are often already there, carved into the concrete or painted on the wall. But other hearts are fleeting; they exist for the time the sun shines them into shadow. Others beg questions of timing and happenstance, like those that form in a cloud moving along a blue sky or tumble out of the same bag of M&Ms. Still, I find them.
There have been a few hearts I haven’t captured because the car moved by too quickly or I didn’t have the means to take a photo, but most of the time I am at the ready if a heart happens upon my path. Because the path, too, is the thing.
So, I don’t think it’s random that the final chapter of Pema Chodron’s When Things Falls Apart is called “The Path Is the Goal.” In it, she writes about “bringing everything that we encounter to the path… This path has one very distinct characteristic: it is not prefabricated. It doesn’t already exist. The path that we’re talking about is the moment-by-moment evolution of our experience, the moment-by-moment evolution of the world of phenomena, the moment-by-moment evolution of our thoughts and our emotions… The source of wisdom is whatever is happening to us right at this very instant” (Chodron, 184-185).
Right now, I bring the loss—all of it—to the path, just as I bring the moments when I’m out in the water, where it’s easier to float. I have to believe that the path is still leading to parenthood, even though none of us can see up ahead. I choose to believe that the heart moments I collect along the way (and my capacity to find them) have something to do with Lorenzo. And now, maybe with someone else, too.
When we lost again, we lost earlier, before there were things like gender or names or shared knowledge, even. But my belly was in the process of being pushed out by this little one of ours who had a heartbeat. That means something. When I looked down, that meaning started presenting as a second heart. This loss is easier to survive because the process of losing doesn’t come close to that hour I held my son. In another way, it’s harder than it might have been in isolation. Now, it spreads like water in and amongst the other, ghastly large pool of grief. It all blends and widens. I spent some time trying to think of the two tragedies separately, in the hopes that a mental division would result in one down in my heart. But I think that was a fool’s mission for a childless mother. Of course they should live together now, these two babies.
In kind, I found more and more of the coupled hearts and they emerged as a pattern of their own. That’s the “moment-by-moment evolution” right now, right here on the path, where two hearts walked with me, for a time. So many of your hearts are on the path, too, now, and there’s strength in numbers, as people also like to say. That’s the premise the Chain-Link Heart Project was founded upon, after all. I think the resulting chain is often what I hold onto when I try to pull myself up. Thank you for all the links—the strength—you’ve added.