“I’m sorry, Mrs. X, but I won’t be able to talk to you anymore. It’s just too painful,” my teenage son’s first and recently ex-girlfriend said to me. “I’m sure you understand.”
Of course I understood. I did understand. I do. But I don’t. I love this girl. This young, big-foreheaded, spindle-legged almost-doe who showed up in my stable a few afternoons a week for over two years. She arranged lettuce with me, and chopped tomatoes, and I started looking out for her as one of the world’s many new, vulnerable, female creatures. One of the women-in-arms who would help me to manage my strong, young sapling of a sleepy-eyed, pimply-faced young man who would forget to tie his shoe laces and who would shove his still-not-entirely finished homework into his bookbag without a protective cover.
How could they be breaking up?
How could I be losing her?
I could feel this young woman’s pain even as I could also feel own my son’s young heart already quickening in a new direction. I could feel her pain even as I knew that young love – so young! 16 years old! – is fragile, is ethereal, so fierce but so … eminently (eventually) healable.
Right now, though, she felt the stab and the hurt. She bled. There was no doubting that the bleeding was real. That the fire in her belly was real. And that, even though he didn’t mean it, even though he still loved her in many ways, my son had stabbed her (“I’m sorry, I can’t go out with you anymore, I’m in love with someone else”) and run.
This belly-hit was a far cry and yet close, painfully close, to the gut-deep laughter they had had at midnight, at 1 am, at 2 am, the whispers and giggles after that while I was trying to sleep, even when they were FaceTiming and in separate apartments, on separate city blocks, in separate sweaty-sheeted teenaged beds.
It would be a long time before she understood.
It would be a long time.
A long, long time.