What becomes of the broken-hearted

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He’s nearly grown — sometimes I can’t believe how much so. And because his eyes are nearly level with mine, because he’s prone to bouts of long silence that can give the illusion of contentment, because for a 16-year-old he can seem so… wise… I sometimes forget he’s just a kid whose life has barely begun.

Try telling that to him, reeling as he is from what looks like his first case of real heartbreak.

I know what it feels like, I told him. Everyone does — none of us will make it to full-grown adulthood without knowing the deep ache that grows like a dark bloom when we offer ourselves in full to another human being and the feeling is not reciprocated.

Music helps, I told him. The sad stuff. And your friends will help you get through it.

I ran through the list for him of the girls and women in my past who put me through the shredder — the ones I can remember, anyway — and the lessons each one imparted to me along with the sweet sorrow.

I told him what I myself did not realize until I was in my twenties: That there are eligible women everywhere — everywhere! — and that none of them are perfect, but many of them are perfectly nice and still others will bring him to that elevated state of consciousness that we call “love.”

And I told him that it can be kind of fun sorting through the list.

Every heart worth knowing has had a little seasoning. Every life story is filled with loves gained and lost.

But still his moon eyes linger, his shoulders slump. It’s not the sort of thing he can be talked out of.

So I respect the process. Every heart worth knowing has had a little seasoning. Every life story is filled with loves gained and lost. And every relationship we have reveals more to us about the curious nature of the beast that is love.

He’ll snap out of it the same way the rest of us did, I told him: so gradually he won’t even notice it until one day someone else catches his eye.

Until then, I’m afraid there’s nothing left for him to do but wallow in this new kind of emotional pain that he’s just starting to suspect is part and parcel of the human condition. He is just a kid, after all. But he’s coming along just fine.