The Heart Always Wants to Keep Beating

“The thing about hearts is that they always want to keep beating.”
― Elizabeth Scott

Four words that have angered me since my sister’s murder are: This. Too. Shall. Pass.

Please keep silent unless I ask for your counsel. It’s better to say nothing than to utter the wrong words to a mourning girl.
Unless, of course, your soul mate has been assassinated, too. Only then will I consider listening to what you have to say. Only then will I know you truly understand about darkness, shadows, and sharp, clawed fists twisting inside your liver and kidneys.

By the way, in case you didn’t know, one can live with half a heart, half a soul. Yes, the blood still flows thru veins, the legs still move, the pulse still pulses.

Isn’t that simply astounding?

After the murder, I stumble upon certain activities to distract me from my sorrow, to divert me from insanity. It’s a relief when one can take a break from being crazy. It’s liberating to become temporarily removed from one’s suffering. When this happens, it’s as if you’re standing outside your own body observing a stranger.

“Look at her,” You say, “She might actually make it.”

So one day my girlfriend, T calls, “Clear your day tomorrow morning. I’m teaching you how to make apple pies.”In other words: This task is not an option. When I arrive at 9:30 a.m., the centers are already prepared and organized in her enormous Martha Stewart kitchen: the apple-peeling center, the crust-making center, and flour, cinnamon, sugar, butter, nutmeg, and shiny green apples are beautifully positioned around the oak table like obedient children.

“How about a strawberry margarita before we start?” she says. I see two mammoth glasses of blood-red slush and begin to giggle like a school girl. “It’s 9:30 in the morning,” I say.“So.” She says. “You need a Margarita reeeeeeal bad.” She holds onto the e for a long time.

We slurp the thick liquid of strawberries and tequila slowly, and the heat traveling from my throat to my stomach feels dangerous, familiar, satisfying. We talk about our kids, husbands, work, and what’s happening in the Middle East. We talk about sex, too, and other things girlfriends typically discuss. We finally get serious about apples after a couple of hours.

She has one of those incredible gadgets that peel the apples and removes the core. There’s something deeply beautiful and pleasurable about watching the skin of the apple unwrap, unwind, and shed its body to the tiled floor: revealing, comforting, and mysterious—like something old and new evolving at the same time. Who invented such a joyous tool? But preparing the crust outweighs everything else. Sifting flower, cutting in Crisco, wrapping your hands around the soft pillow of dough as if it’s a big fat Buddha or your plump Mama.

“Don’t be afraid of it,” T says, “Pound it. Push it. Press it firmly. Pretend it’s the murderer.”

“Take that, you son-of-a-bitch!” I scream.

I punch the dough with all my might. I beat harder and harder as if I’m slamming every regret, belittling word, oppressive action, lost opportunity, and three bullet holes with my bare hands. I beat until my knuckles turn into different shades of pink.

“That’s what you get, you motherfucking murderer.”
“Hey, let me help,” T says. She lifts her fist in the air like a kick ass member of the Black Panthers.

And we begin beating the dough as if it’s a punching bag.

“Why didn’t we do something?” I shout, “Why didn’t we break his legs when we had the chance, smash his fingers so he couldn’t pick up a gun, why didn’t we call the police, why didn’t we…?”

Why. Didn’t. We. Tell?

We sit in silence afterward as if we just finished a chapter of some despicable novel. All I hear is our labored breathing and the idiotic clock tick:::tick:::ticking. One thing I’ve learned in life is that even if you’ve stopped ticking—Time has not.

Suddenly, T says, “We still have apple crisp to make! Get your butt up, Kimmers.” She throws a handful of flour in my face and waits for a response, waits for the petals of my fists to unfold into some form of light. She takes my hand, “She’s here. Can’t you feel her?”

It’s true. I do feel her. Everywhere. In every unfilled space like a soft flickering of hope gathering back its missing colors.

Sometimes all we need is a strawberry margarita, and somebody who gets us really gets us.
Sometimes all we need is the interruption of apples and cinnamon to survive.
One. More. Day.


Photo Credit: Kate~2112 Flickr via Compfight cc

  1. I loved this, Kim. Beautiful. Like everything you write. Your words always take my breath away. How blessed you are to have T. (And she, you.)

    And I like what you said in a comment. Root friends. I call mine the core (and we call ourselves the core four).

    Sending you love as always.

  2. Stunning. Heart-wrenching. Beautiful. Inspiring. God, I’m so thankful for all the T’s who buoy the lost, carry the suffering, make drinks and bake pies for the grieving.

  3. Susan,
    Love the idea for the grieving children….rather than a margarita,
    they can have orange Kool-Aid and punch the hell of that padding. I do believe I need one, too!
    Love you, dear. xx

  4. As always, LOVE how you are able to express your sorrow Kim and love you all the way from South Africa.
    🙂 Mandy xoxoxo

  5. Kim,

    Thank you for another powerful post. Pounding the dough reminds me of the kids at the Center for Grieving Children. We have a Volcano room where 2 kids at a time go with 2 facilitators. They get 5 minutes in this padded room to release intense emotion. They don’t have the delicious margarita but they have a safe place to feel. Having a beautiful friend who not only gets it but offers a safe place to feel is a blessing that you show so powerfully in this piece and in your experience. I love you and thank you❤️

  6. Everyone needs a friend like your friend T. It is a miracle from God – someone who gets you. You are a blessed woman because you have any people who get you, love you, appreciate you, and need your words, all of them. But to have someone like T? Wow. Just wow. Totally. Ya know?

  7. WOW!!! T is an Angel among us… know what a friend truly needed….is such a gift
    And Kim your gift of writing is a gift to us…..thank you for sharing a part of your soul

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