It’s strange when someone comes into your life and says they want to be a part of it. They are asking for your permission to express their care and interest in you. They invite themselves, and you have the choice of whether to allow them in or not. You also have the choice of how far you’ll let them in. At first, you are slow to open your door, your ears have been filled with words of caution. Once they prove themselves trustworthy, you let them in a little farther, and a little farther. You make the decision to let them in deep, you let them take up residence. You let them walk around and look at things, touch things, give their opinion on things. If they break or smudge anything, you forgive them, because you’re happy just to have them there. They mean more to you than the things they break. Sometimes you even give them things to keep, knowing they’ll treasure them, trusting them to value and understand the worth of them.
They delight in you. They share the sweetest words with you. Those words are carved into your heart, engraved on the walls. Their words bear much weight because they come from someone who has seen much more of you than others are allowed to. They are words like “beauty” that are said even after seeing the worst of you. After residing a while, they ask to stay, they talk about a longer visit…perhaps even a permanent home in your heart. In return for what you have allowed them to see, they too have showed you parts of their life, hidden from others. You recognize the beauty of the way your hearts are similar and the static when they combine. Things that once sat still and dusty in corners of your heart suddenly come alive when matched with things from their heart. You discover things that were lost, things that were hidden. Your heart begins to expand as your trust increases and you discover different facets of who you are. You dream together. You bring out your jars of cherished ideas. They’re full of life, swirling colors of bright hopes. You carefully open your jar to reveal your dreams. You watch to see if they handle them with care, whether they laugh like some people, or if they entertain your child-like thoughts. They show you their dreams as well, and you gently take them, realizing their value and the privilege of holding them. With excitement you both discuss ways to mix what you have. The colors they make together are beautiful.
You are introduced to other special people who often visit their heart. You talk about the dusty photographs of loves past. Ones who once had the rare privilege you now have. You cry over painful memories and sharp regrets.
Suspended between the doorways of your hearts hangs laughter and youth. Days of being children. Days of loving.
Occasionally the doors are angrily slammed shut and silence fills the happy spaces. You lean against your door waiting to hear any sign of them coming back. And soon enough, with forgiving arms, they do.
There are certain rooms with doors meant to stay locked. Sometimes the keys are turned too early, and the rooms enjoyed too soon. Those are the rooms of greatest danger. They are the doors that once unlocked, can never be locked again. The rooms where each moment shared within is captured and hung upon the wall, never forgotten.
While residing, that person becomes a part of you. The rooms glow brighter with the carefree life of youthful souls. Each moment shared, each word spoken, each touch given is a colorful piece of fabric that is carefully stitched into a piece of your heart. Sometimes the needle pricks, and you wince, but you know it’s worth far more than the sting.
The day comes when the person who once cared about the little details of your life, once spent long hours delighting in you, tells you they would like to leave now. Just as they chose to care, they are choosing now, to not care. They no longer want to spend time in your heart. You feel the walls around you begin to crack, the floor tilts under you as you lose your balance and fall. You beg them not to leave. You desperately search around you for anything left in your heart to give them that would convince them to stay. “Here!” you shout as you hold out the glass jar of dreams they so loved. But it slips from your hand as they only stare at you blankly. You drag them back to the forbidden rooms where the memories scream so loudly. They just shake their head and turn away. They no longer want you.
They walk out, pretending not to look at the things they once loved. On their way out the strings from their heart holding together the colorful patches covering the walls begin to tear and snap. You feel them slap against your face, you feel the stitches loosening and the walls beginning to cave. Desperately you ask if they would like to come back again, you so enjoyed their visit, you say. The air is chill with polite words and new reservations. “No” they say, they don’t ever want to come back. That’s when the tears lodge in your throat and you stand there gasping, you feel your lungs beginning to collapse.
You look around you at the things your heart is made of. You wonder how they could be seen as so beautiful in one moment and so repulsive the next. You question whether or not the words spoken were true, or just fabricated in order to gain further access into your heart. But, knowing what is within the walls of their heart too, you believe the words engraved on yours. Everything inside you wants to pull them back inside, but you know that you would never be happy unless they were there by choice. They turn back to look at you once, your eyes still read theirs well, and for a moment you catch the bright sparks in their eyes and feel the tension snap and crackle in the air. “Maybe I’ll call sometime” they say. You nod, numbly, knowing you must submit to their terms now. Not even decisions can be shared.
They walk out the door, little threads and colorful pieces of you hang off of them. You watch them pull off a ragged scrap of your heart and toss it away from them. A fat tear creeps down your cheek. You turn your head in pride and will yourself to be stronger. They walk back into their own heart and close the door. The suspended laughter and youth falls to the ground and slowly dissolves. You hear them turn the key on the other side of the door. The door shakes as they test the lock, and you realize it’s for you. The tears turn into sobs that wrack your body. The sky outside the open door changes from day to night, and night to day, but you no longer notice. Even the moon that once hung magically now only seems to make a mockery.
Other people who know the way to your heart come in and find you, where you were when they left. Where you’ve stayed. Some leave gifts, others touch your shoulder, or try to dry a tear. They all find consoling words to leave with you. The words pile up beside you and make little mounds on the floor. They fall in categories, experience, hope, and sympathy. The sharp ones you hold for a moment, then throw away. Some people try to pull you onto your feet, try to convince you to get up and close your door. Sometimes you shakily stand and wobble a few steps, only to collapse again. You pull out your brightly colored mask, reserved for certain times, and you press it tightly onto your face. The smile is convincing. “Everything’s fine” you hear yourself repeat. Repeat. Repeat. If only you could turn off that broken record. But what would you play for them then? They wouldn’t understand the language of the songs you wish to play. They couldn’t ever know the beauty of the melody that once danced through the halls of your heart. The melody, never to be replayed.
When the last visitor leaves, you are alone again. You slowly pull yourself up and begin to walk around the room, carefully touching the things once loved. You find things that were left, and you re-read words etched. You wonder if you should have never let that person in, the person who changed everything. You close your eyes and try to remember what things looked like before. You open your eyes and even though things are shattered and strewn around you, you realize your heart has become so much more beautiful. Your fingers run across the colorful patches and as they do you relive each moment they were stitched in place. Some of the patches are too beautiful to look at and you stitch a heavy grey fabric over them. Occasionally in weakness you rip the grey off, disregarding your screaming conscience. Then, methodically, you stitch it back on again with bleeding fingers. Your joints ache and you feel a heaviness as you begin to wander down the halls to the forbidden rooms. Shame has formed cobwebs in the doorways. The most dangerous rooms are often the most alluring. You try to plug your ears but the memories only scream louder. The locks remain broken.
All of a sudden you feel so alone in your own heart. Only a few dreams remain yours and they no longer look quite as beautiful. You wonder how you could feel so detached from yourself, a stranger to yourself. Gradually people stop visiting as often and the clock seems to tick louder than ever before.
Slowly you pick up some of the broken glass, you tie some of the broken threads, and you board up some of the rooms. The amount of energy it takes to tie one thread is more than you imagined it to be. Once in awhile you find yourself running across to their doorway, it’s not as close anymore. You want to pound upon the door and scream, instead, you politely ask to borrow a needle. What you really needed was a thimble. Sometimes you’re found sitting outside their door asking them to let you in again, but the door always stays locked. They ask you to please go away, to go back to your heart and close your open door. With heaviness you stumble back, feeling ashamed. You close your door partly, waiting for a day with more strength to close it all the way. Your jar of dreams is set outside to catch any that fall. You turn down the lamps, unsure of whether or not you want anyone else to come again. You lie down among the shards and the colorful scraps. You pull your knees tightly to your chest and remind yourself of what is true. Over, and over again. Above you, you notice something you had forgotten was there.
Behind all the scraps, in blood, the words – “You are my beloved.” Words written long before anyone ever entered your heart, words that will remain long after everyone has left.