What to do if you’re broken-hearted

What to do if you’re broken-hearted

We all experience heartbreak and loss. All of us have years when things fall apart, a relationship ends, a loved one passes away, a business or creative project we’ve thrown everything into fails, or we’re forced to sell our house or apartment, or leave someone or something behind.

Every human being experiences death. It grabs a hold of all of us and shakes us in its firm grip. Death, like winter, when the last leaves fall from the tree and its bare branches must bravely face the wind and the frost and the snow.

Some years are more like summer—dreamy, slow, happy. Others, are more like spring—new, fresh, exciting . . . But this year has been winter for me, and I haven’t stopped crying.

It began at the start of the year. We packed our entire household and moved 10,236 miles away—to Germany. I sobbed on the plane; in Australia I was leaving behind my best friend, and my mum and sisters.

We arrived in Frankfurt, and the next day I had an appointment with the immigration office. As I walked into the tall, tan-coloured building, I started to cry. Crowding the hallways were masses of men, women, and children, all clutching papers and passports; the refugee crisis in Europe. I took my place in the queue and sat next to a woman and her small boy from Africa. He looked up at me, eyes wide and scared, his hands already gnarled and old for his young years.

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That day, I cried when I got home from the immigration office. Hubby opened the door, our daughter in his arms, both looked at me expectantly. “How did it go, Mummy?” my daughter asked, reaching for me. I started to sob. I know it won’t work out; our visa won’t be approved. “It’s ok, Mummy,” my daughter said, “You did your best. We’re so proud of you.” I walked upstairs with my little girl in my arms, I placed her on her bed and walked into mine. I threw myself on the floor and sobbed until I my chest hurt so much I feared it’d rip into two.

Every one assured me it will work out. You’ll get a visa, Belinda, this is your home, and you fulfil all the requirements, all the criteria, my lawyer, friends, sponsors say . . . But I know—the voice of my intuition is clear: Our visa application will be denied.

The grieving began for me. I cried myself to sleep that night . . .

. . . And every day after that I cried. I cried when I took my daily walk in the forest; cried when I walked into the village for coffee; cried when I walked along the river. I cried in the church. I cried in the patisserie. I cried at the marketplace, in the line at the supermarket, while waiting for my order at the pharmacy; cried as I sat on the park bench watching the ravens.

I cried when I walked through the graveyard at night; when I strolled past the tombstones lit by the red-soft glow of lanterns, which were lovingly placed amongst the flowers and the statues of saints and angels in remembrance of those who once lived and were loved.

I cried everywhere, all the time.

Some weeks later, I thought I’d come to the end of my grief. And then we got the email. It’s official—our visa has been denied. I picked up my laptop and walked downstairs to the kitchen where Hubby was making coffee. I translated the email from German into the English for him; and he took off his glasses and hung his head, and two tears slid down his cheek.

For the longest time, we sat together at the rectangular, wooden table in our beautiful cottage in the Black Forest—the place that was our European home for the past eight years—and wept.

Later, I walked upstairs and gingerly knocked on my daughter’s bedroom. I told her the news. Her face crumpled and she whimpered. “But here is our home, Mummy. I love Germany, Mummy. Why do we have to leave? What about my school and friends? I don’t understand?” I pressed her close and cried into her soft, lavender-scented hair.

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My family started to grieve . . . For the rest of our time in Germany, I held my daughter’s hand while she cried (or wailed) herself to sleep every night. Hubby kept his grief to himself, but I noticed his red-rimmed eyes and the way his posture became sunken.

Then it was time to leave Germany. I wake, empty and sore. My first thought: How do I make it through the day? I stumbled out of bed to sort the remaining clothes, items, paperwork, toys, suitcases. I started to clean and organise, but I could barely walk. My arms and legs felt like bags of wet sand.

As I did the final clean and tidy-up of our house; as I washed the floors, polished the wood, watered the flowers in their pots, swept the leaves, and threw away papers and belongings we couldn’t take to Australia, I was painfully aware it’s for the last time. It was our last, precious time in this house, and my soul was clinging a hold. All I wanted to do was bury myself in the dry, hard earth underneath the cellar and stay there.

I couldn’t stop thinking: Please, no, I love you so much! Why can’t I stay! Why must I leave! I can’t leave! This is my soul home!

Flashes of eight years’ worth of memories: Hubby and Daughter rushing inside, snow on their noses and hair, laughing and falling over each other; me, red-faced, smiling, and panting after a jog through the forest; my mum, arms full of bags of shopping and clothes, elated, smitten with Germany’s beauty and elegance. Friends that have walked in and out, cheery voices, laughter, embraces; my daughter and her girlfriends running up the stairs, squeals of delight and playing, sounds of children’s joy and freedom.

I walked down into the cellar and stared at the cold concrete floor . . . if only to bury myself here . . . if only to stay . . .

But my daughter called up to me, the cab had arrived. We’re to leave for the airport. I walked upstairs, into the kitchen and out the front door. My heart is broken but my soul has hope. I know I just need to grieve . . .

. . . because spring always follows winter. 

In White Light + Love,

Belinda
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