My Broken Heart, My Broken Nose
At first thought, one wouldn’t connect the two, a broken heart and a broken nose, but 2011 has taken me through both. The impact of each was shocking. We seemed to be on the happy path and enjoyed each other so much, my nose and I, but honestly, I always coveted my brother’s nose. It’s more slender than mine and shaped so precisely Italian that it gives him a Roman godesque-type appearance. It’s the supporting role to his luscious curly hair, gorgeous green eyes and olive-toned skin.
But on that unsuspecting day, a knee met my nose with such force that everyone in the room heard the crack. It was a moment in time that took me to my knees and left me shaking, and waking up to raccoon blackened eyes and a nose that seemingly was bursting out of its skin. When I put my hands on my head, I could feel my skull in the same alignment as my nose, shifted to the left, and the left side higher than the right. The headaches only subsided when my skull found homeostasis again.
On the morning that he left, I never thought that his noon e-mail would be a three-sentence break-up message. I thought it would be a love song like he had attached so many times before, or a message for meeting after work, or a link to some tech-y site that he would send me because he loved that I could understand his tech-y mind and humor him about it. The news was staggering. We came together in so many sweet ways, like the knowing glance of shared understanding, or the uncontrollable joy of a reunion.
Blindsided. But truthfully, he was doing a good job of hiding his depression. I didn’t see it; he loves some solitary things and loved doing them out in nature. He has climbed 44 of the 54 peaks over 14,000 feet in the Rockies, for example, and many of them solo. I could get this, but how did I not see that his drawing inward was more than the need for some time for himself? Now I see the sadness that has robbed him of any ability to turn away from it. Really, he worked against great odds, lacking family support as a child. He made a loving life for himself and then convinced himself that he wasn’t worthy of love, then telling me that I’d be better off without him. I see his pain and send him love every way that I can. He doesn’t respond. I send him love.
I had this weekend planned for months. A friend invited me to a healing ceremony with a Curandera from northern New Mexico. Her sister is mentoring with the Curandera and we participated in a Limpia, a cleansing ceremony, and one for reclaiming parts of ourselves that have left us. Curanderismo, from the root word curare–to cure, is an ancient form of healing influenced primarily by Moorish, African, Native American (Aztec/Mayan) and Hispanic cultures. The medicine is practiced in a traditional and respectful way using ancient prayers and techniques.
The timing of the ceremony fascinates me. A week after breaking my nose, where the impact has seemingly left me more fatigued than I have ever felt, I now wonder what has left me. What do I need to reclaim? And my heart, do we really reclaim a love lost? No, I later learned, this is not about reclamation. This is about softening what has hardened, like turning cement into sand.
Copal is burned sanctifying the space and prayers are recited. The Curandera is both clear and pointed in her approach. No indecisiveness, yet her caring eyes and soft voice embrace me and I feel safe. She begins by calling in the four directions. A long golden-haired child enters from the south. From the north, the direction of our ancestors, a prodigious brown grizzly bear lumbers in and nearly pushes over the Curandera. It is my grandfather. His presence is undeniable; I talk with him and he comforts me. I reflect on the gifts that he has given me. He died when I was only 7, but he alone saw me and left me with what seems like indomitable strength in my heart. He has been my protector, even in his physical absence. He gave me the gift of having a quiet heart. In the nose break emergency room, my heart rate was 64. I’m calm in disaster, my heart, like the hibernating bear. “It must be the yoga, the tech says.” But it was protection as a child, I could be so quiet, almost invisible and escape harm. As an adult, I slip easefully into peaceful meditation–an immeasurable and true gift.
The Curandera worked on my heart. A transformation of what had hardened was now softened. At that moment my heart cried out to a new friend. I didn’t know why, but later learned that his mother had passed that day. Our heart connections are unexplainable at times and I have learned that I don’t have to know everything, and this allows me to be open to the unknowing, the forgotten, the stillness, and love.
One wouldn’t connect a broken heart with a broken nose necessarily. But they led me to a healing ceremony where I felt my grandfather’s unmistakable love. My heart is soft and calls out to you.