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Lady Sylvia Ashley & Clark Gable on his Encino Ranch, 1950

Just so you know, you will always be the hardest thing I will let go. Driving past your church and all the houses in a row, the feeling in my chest is fire. Broken glass and wire.                      –Ryan Adams (back up vocals, Johnny Depp)

Last week I had a small procedure done and was instructed to care for it by cleaning and dressing the wound twice daily. Ironically, it was on my chest, right over my heart. It got me to thinking about the internal, emotional wounds we carry.

It’s funny how resilient the body is and how it can heal. The same is true of the human heart. Just a couple of years ago, mine felt sharp and jagged and my feelings were raw. But I have since gotten past it, grown into my future without the pain. Now it’s more like embers and beach glass, the edges rubbed soft by the salty tides.

Bittersweet is what I would call this experience now. I find it is absolutely possible to feel joy and sadness all stirred up together. There is a scar, but no longer a bleeding cut. How fickle the human heart. The person I was so desperate for at one time, I no longer even desire.

I wonder how Sylvia coped with each failed marriage? I suppose it’s hope that keeps us getting back up, dusting ourselves off and getting back on the horse. Or hopeless romanticism. Or insanity.

One of the many things I learned (in retrospect) about romance is summed up in this formula: real + real = true. One-sided real does not make an authentic connection, no matter how one of you might try.

Bittersweet does not mean bitter. I might even give my heart again some day. But for now, I’m holding it close. The sweet fire within.