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The Little Piece of Heart

Whenever you have a child, adopt a child, love a child, you break off a piece of your heart and place it with them. Every achievement or failure they experience is also felt by you. When they hurt, you hurt. When they laugh, you laugh. You experience these emotions as strongly as or perhaps even stronger than they do.

    When they are small, they want to see you laugh, and cannot stand to see you cry. To have you out of their sight is the scariest thing they can imagine. But the child remembers they have that piece of your heart in their tiny hand and all is well.

    In their early teens, that piece of heart may be sitting on a dresser or hidden, lint covered and sticky, in the wasteland of a jean's pocket, but it is always within reach. Close enough for comfort, yet far enough as to avoid embarrassment.

   As they reach their late teens and young adulthood, that piece of heart becomes a headache. It gets left in cabs, on hiking trails, at the bottom of beer cans, and on dance club floors. It's the early morning phone call that makes them curse you and roll their eyes. It's the watchful, yet loving, presence that your child is always trying to outrun, outsmart, and outlast. Some of their friends, the ones that never had a piece of heart, wish that they could have it and your child would love nothing more than to give that annoying, nosy, stupid,lazy, dramatic, worthless, overbearing, pain in the ass, piece of heart to them. It gets beaten, abused, battered, and broken, but it still remains. Quietly, tearfully, following a few steps behind.

  Later in life, that child is married and pacing the floor, trying desperately to calm their own little heart snatcher. At their wit's end, they remember that little piece of heart. They dig it out of an old box in the attic and place on the mantle. The little piece of heart becomes a priceless helping hand. It becomes late night calls for advice on colic and fever. It becomes the shoulder to cry on, when life gets a little crazy. It's the nurse on call, marriage counselor, recipe book, shopping buddy, and can magically morph into a million other useful things. Life without this little piece of heart is unbearable to think about.

  Eventually, either due to old age, illness, or an accident, that little piece of heart flickers and dies. The child cries tears of sorrow and regret. If they could take back every nasty thing they had ever said to that piece of heart they would. The child would give anything to have it back for even just one more day. But, it is too late, so the child lowers that amazing, wonderful, irreplaceable, piece of heart into the ground. Placing next to it a little piece of their own heart.

©Susan Gwyn Flippin 2013
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