How Long Does Heartbreak Last?


We aren’t written in the stars, or if we are, we’re not reading them right.

There are tracks that run clear across the country from when my heels dug into the dirt, from when you pushed me away, away, all the way away. I trace them when my eyes are closed. I rewind time until I’m back to where you are until I’m back to where you are still mine.

Every song on the radio is our song now because even the happy ones have found a way to break my heart. Especially the happy ones, maybe. I turn those off and search for something sad, something that makes me feel less alone in my sadness.

There are so many songs about heartbreak, did you know? There are so many, and none of them help me understand how anyone survives it. How does anyone survive it?

I have ashes in my chest where a heart used to beat. I handed it to you, and you handed it back when it was already scorched, already embers. Now if anyone so much as breathes on it, pieces float away. I don’t pretend to understand the hows and whys of it, but I put one foot in front of the other all the same, and the second-hand keeps ticking all the same, and it’s been a year now.

Can you believe it? It’s been a year now.

And I still reach for you, in the middle of the night, before my brain wakes up enough to remind me that you’re not there.

Some mornings my brain wakes up in a roar, in a dagger-shaped lunge, straight to the pit of my stomach, and other mornings it rolls awake slowly, drowsily, in a pull, in a tug, in a “I can’t believe, I can never believe, that he’s still gone.”

I write poetry like I’ve been to war and came back with blood pouring from holes in my chest but if I put the right words in the right order on paper, maybe those holes will close, maybe I’ll get to keep the rest of my blood. I write it desperately, like you’ll read it, like maybe the right words in the right order won’t just heal me, but maybe they’ll heal you, too.

I don’t even know if you need healing.

There are answers to questions that pound through my veins, but only you have them, and you let your lips form the shape of them, but you never let them out into the air. I tell you, you don’t have to shout. You don’t even have to come close. Just whisper them into the wind. Just let them be carried here somehow, some way. Let me understand.

It’s the kindest gift you could ever give someone whose heart you’ve broken – answers.

I think by answers, I mean peace.

Do you hear me? I don’t know if you hear me, or if I’m only saying all of this inside my own head again. You know better than anyone else how carefully I contain myself in my own head. How I weigh and measure every word. How I swallow them. How I choke on them.

Until you left, and I started bellowing them. I started wailing them. There isn’t a word I haven’t said since you left.

It’s been a year now, and I’m still writing this to you. I’ve been writing this to you. These pieces have all been in me since the first day, and I’ve been waiting for them to pass on through, but they’ve all decided to stay. They’ve planted themselves inside of me. They’ve grown, they’ve bloomed. Into something fierce, something beautiful.

And I’m afraid you’re never going to see them.

I’m afraid I’m never going to see you again.

How long does heartbreak last?

I thought maybe two weeks, I thought maybe six months.

Now I’m afraid it never ends.

So maybe we aren’t written in the stars.

That doesn’t mean

I won’t ask you again

and again

and again

to defy the stars with me.