She was born whole, like everyone else. Dark, perfect eyes, hair straight as if someone had placed each strand with miraculous care. With her pale, almost translucent skin she was beautiful; beautifully ready to face the world outside her parents’ house. She was born on a hot December day (summer in Brazil), nobody knows exactly when, but it was December, and she was a gift.
But, life is not a book already written, life is chaos and many times we are the authors of our own chaos. She was eight when the blow fell that created the first crack in her heart. A girl too young to have to come to grips with abandonment, mistreatment and poverty. She had been so proud of her beautiful home and the delights her father shared with all the neighbours. How could she forget the sweet taste of the cherries, and the saltiness on her tongue left by the olives? But now, there was only bread, if they had bread at all. Her father was responsible for that first rift, when he left the family for another woman, leaving the girl, then just 8 years old, to work for an aunt – stitching socks to earn money.
Later, when she was a teenager, life became more bearable. Her job was a challenge, she had some money of her own, even, but, as with her sisters, most of it went to their mother. They needed to contribute to supporting their home and the younger members of the family. Luxury, to her, was a book, or going to the matinee showing of a film. The supreme moment came when someone invited her to a party. And, at that party, many years ago, she met him. Love at first sight? We will never know, but she was no longer in the first flush of youth;, her older sisters had already left to marry men they had met. She thought they had made bad choices–that she would do better.
They became a couple; a couple with dreams. Dreaming about the future, a warm home, where, one-day, children would play and learn. Maybe a car in the garage for summer vacations; and books, films, theatre and, perhaps, a meal out at a restaurant once a month. They planned the honeymoon, at an exotic beach resort. He told her how beautiful she was; how desirable her timid eyes were; how she was his life, his present, and his future. She was totally overwhelmed by how lucky she was. Then came the second crack; much deeper this time.
It was a cold morning in July. She was late for work, so had decided to take the bus from a different stop. Then she saw him; hand in hand with another woman, smiling, as if partners in life. She rubbed her eyes; it was impossible; he was still saying so many sweet things–they were still making plans. He kissed the girl. She waited. He took the bus; the girl stayed, probably waiting for the next one. With incredulity at her own forthrightness, she approached and smiled at the girl. They began to talk. By the time she arrived at the office, her heart had cracked in to tiny pieces. The girl at the bus stop was engaged; engaged to her fiancée!
Life was a challenge, it was not fair, and her family were still hinting at her advancing age. Then, one day, she accepted another man into her life. She married him, but each moment they spent together forced yet one more crack into her heart. He was obsessive over her, but it was not love, it was ‘control’. Beating her was not off limits. Starving her, keeping her a prisoner inside their home, doing everything he could to exert control. She lost the first baby, and almost the second, life was a burden, and her heart was about to break.
When she got married, everybody had called her ‘lucky’, ‘happy’, ‘sweet’, but now her world was ‘authoritarian’, ‘demanding’, ‘crazy’. Her heart was in pieces, as was her soul. There was not much left of the baby with the dark eyes, and the sparkle in her mind. Now there was only sadness, anger and fear. Yes, she still had fear; fear for herself, like that when her father had left home, and fear for the daughters she had brought into this world. Fear for the present. The future was not something she could control.
But, life is random as is everything in the universe. She kept going; in the end she survived him, that man who left this world–left her on a cold afternoon in a cold August. Her heart survived. Now it was time for the younger of her daughters, and her granddaughter to care for her. Promises were made, she felt secure and loved. Perhaps, finally, love had blossomed in her life. Her heart was mending.
Yet life delivers curves beyond curves. She discovered that later. Days were passing, the impact of the man’s death was diluted by the waters of time, but those who had promised love and protection, soon forgot their assurances. Now she felt unwanted in any place. She was a burden that her daughter didn’t want to carry. A burden to the one person to whom she had sacrificed her nights, her money, her independence and her dreams to provide security. Yet she still loved her younger daughter deeply, even though she was the one who had made made many mistakes, like getting pregnant when she was 17. Her deep love for her only granddaughter was real. She did everything she could to make their paths easier, and to help, encouraging them to study, to travel, and to get jobs that would enable them, at least, to make the most of their lives. Of course, the money had come from the man, but the will was hers. What she never could have known was how he had manipulated them; leaving three women trying to cope with his absence; then all the words he had whispered to his daughter and granddaughter about her. soon his legacy become apparent. In whispers he had blamed her for all the troubles, pains, and bad decisions that had affected their younger daughter’s life. Fuelling with hate and lies the gaps between the truths, the youngest completely rejected the old lady.
Now, she was in a deep dark place, her heart finally broken into a thousand pieces. There was no glue strong enough, no hope powerful enough to mend it. “Why?” she asked herself. What had she done to deserve the contempt she now received? How could she cope with everything? Was her life still worth anything?
She didn’t know the future. Her heart was aching, as does every broken heart. And if today were her last day, would she still forgive all those who had continued to drive cracks into her partly mended heart? Her god required she should, but sincerely, she couldn’t say she would…