I have a cold, stone heart. Really. My husband gave it to me.
We had been married three years. I didn’t think the three-year anniversary gift was supposed to be concrete, yet there it was. Staring up from the bottom of a beautifully-wrapped, frilly box was a grey, cold square. Underneath was a grey, cold curved shape. As I removed the heavy pieces from the box, it began to emerge and to make sense.
“Oh!” I said. “It’s a heart.” The disappointment in my voice was probably palpable. I hated hearts. Always had. As the girl most likely to never snag a date, ever, I had crossed hearts off my list long, long ago. If I hated hearts, I could never be disappointed by never receiving one.
And then I met the man who was to become my husband. As far from the “movie star” some girls of dreamed of marrying, my guy was ordinary. So ordinary, he was downright adorable. A little thinning on top, a devilish twinkle in the eye, a sly grin that just barely gave away his wicked sense of humor. He saw in me the girl I had so successfully hidden from everyone else. He saw the hurt, the reticence, the fear, the aching and longing. He felt it himself.
His first marriage was unloving, un-affectionate and un-physical. In a very sad turn of events, after years of “therapy”, it was finally revealed that his wife had endured years of sexual abuse at the hand of her father. What was even sadder was that the “therapist” advised that the wife’s aversion to sex and physicality was not only understandable, but quite alright.
Years of living separate lives, except when it involved their children, led to divorce once the kids went off to college.
My heart broke for Michael when I learned of his story. How awful to be married 25 years and never once get a love-note from your wife. How devastating it must have been to go to sleep every night, back-to-back, without so much as a goodnight kiss.
Michael actually knew of my “heart phobia”. I had told him while we were dating that I hated everything most people think of as romantic. In addition to hearts, I hated love songs, I hated pink, and I hated roses. Are you thinking now that it’s kind of hard to please me? Oh yeah. But this magician I fell in love with wooed me with “Stand By Me”, the very stark version recorded by John Lennon. He bought me the black clothes that I love, and NEVER got my size wrong! He brought home tulips (which I had never actually told him were my favorite flower).
And so when he presented me with this very unusual, stark, grey concrete heart I fell in love with him all over again.