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I have lost heart.

I could look up the date that I lost heart, but why would I? It was at a picnic for one of the athlete groups my daughter is in. Another parent had been flirting with me at the meets. I was wandering around saying hi to people and he was there. One of the younger siblings came by and he said, "T, I have a present for you." His face was lit up. She opened the package and her face lit up. It was a weapon with an instructional CD. No, not a gun, silly. She thanked him joyfully and roared off waving it to show her friends.

That was it. My heart fell out of my chest. It crawled around after him at the picnic, like a short legged lapdog that tries to keep up with a long legged person. I tried not to be too obvious, that I was following my heart. I kept sidling up to it and trying to grab it, but it would squirt away. It didn't look as clumsy and short legged when I tried to catch it.

I got food and sat near my heart. It lay on the grass looking at him, all starry eyed. I was embarrassed and hissed at it once, but another parent looked at me. I pretended I hadn't hissed, and waited. I hoped that my heart would get sleepy in the sun and that I could grab it.

No, it didn't get sleepy and it followed him home. He has a shop full of half built boats, rents out to other builders, has cars, works on cars, helps teens work on cars. My heart, which is battered and patched anyhow, was covered with old car oil and sawdust when I got there. I resolved to retrieve it.

I went to the shop frequently. I tried going in the early morning when he was taking his son to school. My heart hid. It ran into the nearby woods and now it has duff and fall leaves plastered to it too. I paid to have my car repaired and he designed a trailer. I was willing to pay to have it built, hoping that that would satisfy my heart, but no, it is so stubborn. It hopped into the trailer when he was working on it. I quickly closed the door, but he'd left a tool inside and my heart got out.

I've tried to get it back for five months, but I can't. I give up. It may return or not. It seems happy.

I miss it and my chest hurts. It's hard to sort out what is the sequelae of the strep A and what is pain from my heart being gone. I want to joke about being the Tin Woodswoman, but I have a heart. It's just lost or AWOL, really. I know where it is. It just isn't in my chest.

I've been going to massage every other week to heal some of the trauma of the deaths and all, and my posture has improved. But this morning my chest ached so that I reverted: shoulders and chest caved in as I curled in bed, in an attempt to stem the ache. It worked pretty well. My shoulders ached, but the hole in my chest didn't seem so huge and empty.

Now I know why so many people walk around with that shoulder forward caved in look: they've lost their hearts too. We try to avoid each others' eyes, because seeing another's pain triggers our own.

Maybe my heart will come back some day.