The bell tinkled over the door. I looked up from behind the counter…she was a pretty little thing. Couldn’t have been much older than twenty two, maybe twenty three- but barely. She looked older at the moment…like she was carrying the weight of the world on her back, a broken heart inside her, and a wounded soul too. She was.
Otherwise she would have never found my shop. It can only be found by broken hearts, troubles to heavy to bear, or wounded souls. She had all three. I came around the corner as she looked at a display case filled with old wedding bands, engagement rings, and necklaces of all types.
She ran a gloved hand gently over the glass, as if she were communicating with the journeys that those items must have gone on to end up here…in a repair shop.
She didn’t even notice as I approached her.
“May I help you?”
Her eyes were still puffy from the kind of crying that strikes over and over again…leaving her with a slightly haunted look. Whatever had happened, had happened recently, for the tears of should have, could have, or might have been, were lingering just on the edge of her eyelids. One step away from a memory, moment, or recollection from tottering over onto her cheek.
“No. Not really. I just saw your sign that said: “Repair Shop”, the broken heart, and cut wedding bands on the sign caught my eye. It made me wonder what kind of repair shop fixes hearts, or broken vows.”
A very perceptive girl. That is for sure. Not many make that connection that quickly.
I didn’t bandy about. This girl needed repair- and now. I could tell by the tone of her voice that hope, healing, and heart were all about to freeze over. Sometimes becoming numb that way, makes it easier to deal with life. The risk of getting your heart broken - again…outweighs any dream of finding a new love. I could see the numbness starting to creep into her future.
Now was the time to fix what I could.
“Well young Lady, I can’t fix what I don’t know what is broken or why it broke. If you tell me, perhaps I can repair it. “
I smiled. It was the smile I gave everyone at the beginning. It is the safest smile you will ever see. It says: “I am listening. I won’t interrupt. I am not forming a reply while you talk. And I am not judging. “
Good Bartenders have that smile. Mother’s often have it. Dad’s too. Good friends, truly good friends don’t even know they have it. I use it a lot. I did now.
She turned to talk, to tell me, instead, she just fell into my arms and cried.
My repairs had already started.
When someone falls into your arms, it means they still need hugs. It means they still have the ability to find comfort in the arms or embrace of someone. It means they haven’t lost their humanity. All you have to do is hold them. The repair starts right away. If you keep the hug comforting and not confining, the walls come down, words fade away, and all you have to do is hold them. It is the first and most important step in repairing a broken heart.
The second is to listen. Really listen. Not offering advice, solutions, or picking sides. Those sound like nice things, but they take away the person’s ability to see clearly. It takes control out of their hands, or validates their actions as unkind as they may be. No. A good Repair Shop knows that just being there for them …helps.
I heard her muffled voice start up. She turned her head to the side, but didn’t lose contact with my chest. Even in her pain, she was kind, considerate, and wanted to be heard- I made another repair there. Letting those feeling surface so that she would use them on herself. Most folks are much more forgiving, understanding, and considerate to other people than they are to themselves. A good Repair Shop turns those good virtues inward. So I did just that.
I could feel her thoughts soften almost immediately. Blame was leaking out of her onto my floor congealing with the ugly thoughts that had slid out while I held her. She was no longer looking through her faults, or thinking it was all her fault. A major repair had been done to both her Self-Esteem, and her Confidence. Two things that often crack, peel, or shatter when love is twisted, torn, or taken from someone.
The repairs were going well…she continued to tell me about him and her. The “We always” beginnings...lost the advantage of being a pronoun for a couple, and assumed the Title of the Royal “We". Another good sign that the repairs were going well.
Finally she showed me the ring. It was a beautiful ring. I studied it carefully to see if any strands, strings, or stains remained from when it was first put on her finger. None. Good. It was no longer her “engagement ring” it was merely jewelry.
Another good sign, this repair was moving along splendidly.
Sometimes the individual is strong enough to have the repair completed in one visit. Other times, the repair needs a weld. Another broken heart, tortured soul, or twisted relationship can only be made whole by welding two repairs together. A tricky repair because it can’t be a rebound bond, those always end up failing after fooling one or the other into thinking the repairs were well done, or permanent. Those usually only last a few months, rarely longer than a year. I ran a good Repair Shop…and I don’t do shoddy work.
This girl needed someone as strong as her…now. If I would have waited, she would have convinced herself that she never wanted any one to walk the road of Life with her. That she didn’t need anyone. She would have been right…but it wouldn’t have been the right repair. Love needs sharing.
Luckily, I had just the man for her. A guy who just got out of the Army six months ago. His “Dear John” letter wasn’t even a letter, just a text, followed by being unfriended, and her FACEBOOK status changed to: “Single.” It crushed him, and freed her from the unhappy face to face breakup of old. But like this woman, he had that fierce determination to face the future with hopes and dreams, and not with hesitation and timidity.
I asked her to wait. I called him. A half hour later I closed the shop to take them both to a local Diner. We chatted for a bit. They chatted for a bit longer. I left while they were still chatting. The Repairs were done.
Back at the shop, I put her ring in the case. Unblemished by any of the past. It was just a ring again. Waiting for someone who didn’t need repairs, but a beginning. I had someone in mind.