Heart of Stone
In the winter of 2006, I walked onto a construction site in Chamblee, GA. It was the beginning of my career in commercial construction management and a 10-year love affair that forever altered my life for the better. He was handsome and quiet, somewhat shy. I was bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and idealistically naive and confident. He was the onsite superintendent for the Masonry contractor and I was an Associate Office Engineer a.k.a glorified paper pusher. I wore my white Gilbane hard hat and Harley Davidson steel-toe boots with panache and gratitude.
Ten years my senior, Craig often smirked at my exuberance and my tack for trying way too hard. We became fast friends and by the end of June 2007, we were living together in my cramped one-bedroom apartment in “Buckhead.” I emphasize that with quotations, because actually I lived on the cusp of Druid Hills in Atlanta, but the property manager spotted this country mouse from a mile away. She knew Buckhead was a more sellable term than an “armpit burrough of Atlanta” facing the Pink Pony and Club Miami off of Buford Highway. And so it goes that he moved in to be closer to work. He was a new transplant from the Chicago area. I would come to know Indiana and the Chicago area well through our partnership.
For some strange reason, I think of topics to write about and procrastinate and then I find inspiration in particularly emotional moments and, thus, this column gets written not from preparation or professionalism, but from my heart. Tonight as I drove home from painting my grandmother’s utility room, I discovered a Cher song that I had never heard before. “Heart of Stone” is apparently an obscure gem known only to die hard fans. Cher is a spirit animal to me, so it was only a matter of time before I discovered this diamond.
I am on the third day of mine and Craig’s life together disappearing before my eyes. Of course it had been dying for several years, but we mutually closed the coffin Saturday night. And then these lyrics appeared before me as a siren song of truth:
Heart of Stone
“Beneath the white fire of the moon
Love's wings are broken all too soon
We never learn
Hurt together, hurt alone
Don't you sometimes
Wish your heart was a heart of stone?
We turn the wheel, and break the chain
Put steel to steel, and laugh at pain
We're dreamers in castles made of sand
The road to Eden's overgrown
Don't you sometimes
Wish your heart was a heart of stone? ...
Ten rounds in the ring with love
Do you lose and win
Or win and lose?”
- Cher, “Heart of Stone”
Tonight I am wishing that my heart was a heart of stone. I am in the initial stages of grief. What no one ever shared with me is that sometimes letting go is the only option and the healthiest road. I am a child of divorce, and though we never married, our love lasted longer than many marriages these days. Several moves, six dogs, one beloved cat, two trucks, and the melding of our families. My addiction issues and subsequent recovery. The death of his surly but lovable father and the loss of that Masonry job. We really lived life in a partnership. He was my person. We initially parted ways in January 2014. We remained the closest of friends. Our dinners and deep conversations lingered and we eventually fell back into the embrace of love.
But, alas, it was not the Divine Order of the Universe. We went “ten rounds in the ring with love,” and it led to this moment of pure letting go. We are taking the space that we never allowed ourselves before in previous incarnations of our parting. I am the person I am thanks to sharing life with this man. His kindness, his unending loyalty, his indelible sturdiness and stability. He brought the sweetest fruits to my life and I will miss him wholeheartedly. I am a firm believer that I must unfurl my fingers and offer open hands to the Universe to accept the next ordained gift meant especially for me. It hurts no less knowing this.
“Do you lose and win, or win and lose?...” Is there any way to ever know? I believe that I won in the long run. It is a testament to me to have been loved by such a special person and I choose to believe that the energy of love never dies, it is only transferred. You know, 3rd Law of Thermodynamics and such, as applied to my journey of love and loss. And I love that man. Here is to the momentous path of letting go and a (non-alcoholic) toast to us both finding what we need in life.