Sadness is salvation

My heart is broken.

There is a hollowness there

4 chambers of open space
arteries, capillaries,


One summer, when I was just a kid,

I became obsessed with making sure my heart was still beating.

Laying quietly under soft covers at night,
or riding in the car belted into the backseat

I’d lay my hand over my small and still flat chest and wait

for the rhythm to reassure me


But somehow it only made me feel worse. How could I trust such a faint fluttering to keep me alive?

Even now sometimes I lay my head on Wil’s chest, just to hear the sound,

a sweet and steady pulsing.

I have not yet allowed myself to place my hand on my own son’s tiny delicate chest.

I am afraid of what I’ll feel. The slightness. The softness. The smallness. A muscle no bigger than a stone.

The beat of a heart is the first sound we hear, a great drumming, dancing us out of one world and into the next.

And its the last one too, the roaring of our own blood ringing in our ears.

Like wind,like water,

like waves.

If I could work my heart like clay

I’d smooth the edges and shape the sides,

Dip my hands in slip and run them slowly over hairline cracks and fissures

sealing, repairing, fixing, healing.

It is not ideas that will lead us out of this, or our hands or minds or hopes. Or prayers.

It is our broken hearts.

Sadness is salvation.

Our grief is a great awakening,
a daybreak,
a dawn,
a sunrise,

a mourning,

Allowing us to


I love you.
I’m sorry.
Please forgive me.
Thank you.

Thank you for listening,

photo by Michelle Johnsen

photo by Michelle Johnsen

One response to “Sadness is salvation

  1. for what it’s worth…
    in Traditional Chinese Medicine, all organs serve the emperor.
    that is: all the organs are servant to the Heart.
    the Heart is the Emperor
    Lung, Large Intestine, Stomach, Spleen, Small Intestine (paired with the Heart – it’s the sentry, the guard, the one who says yes you may pass to speak with the emperor, or no you may not), Triple Heater, Heart Protector, (Western medicine doesn’t have a corresponding organ system for these two), Kidney, Bladder, Gall Bladder, & Liver ALL SERVE THE HEART

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