My second graders love to argue, and sometimes their word choices can be very hurtful. So, I sat down with our school social worker and made a plan. She read a story to my class about the words we say that can be hurtful, and we wrote them on a large paper heart on the board. We talked about how those words hurt our hearts, so she took the paper heart off the board and crumpled it into a ball. When she opened it back up, it was still a heart, but it was crumpled. Hurtful words change our hearts forever, they will never be exactly the same.
As I sat back and watched her teach my class this very valuable lesson about the power of words, I realized that I carry a crumpled heart. When my Charlotte died, my heart crumpled, just like the red paper heart in my classroom. It wasn't destroyed, but it was changed forever.
I truly do believe it when people tell me the pain becomes easier to bear as time passes. I believe that my heart will feel joy again. It still beats with promises of hope, allowing me to believe that I will one day be able to say that I am truly happy. But unfortunately, I also know that my heart can never completely return to where it was before Charlotte died. When it's crumpled, it's forever changed. No matter how much joy and happiness I am blessed with in the future, I will forever feel the pain of her passing. I will forever miss every moment we never shared. I will always wish things were different. I will always wish that she was here.
The creases and bumps and lines of my crumpled heart won't be this pronounced and painful forever, but they will never completely disappear either. We taught my second graders that words crumple hearts, and I realized that death crumpled mine. It's a hard pill to swallow knowing that I carry a crumpled heart, but I am slowly learning to accept it.