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Banged-Up Heart: Dancing With Love and Loss
     

Banged-Up Heart: Dancing With Love and Loss

by Shirley Melis
 
Banged-Up Heart by Shirley Melis is an intimate and clear-eyed account of finding love late and losing it early—and of the strength it takes to fall madly in love a second time, be forced to relinquish that love too soon, and yet choose to love again.

When her husband of thirty years dies suddenly, Shirley Melis is convinced she will never find another man like

Overview

Banged-Up Heart by Shirley Melis is an intimate and clear-eyed account of finding love late and losing it early—and of the strength it takes to fall madly in love a second time, be forced to relinquish that love too soon, and yet choose to love again.

When her husband of thirty years dies suddenly, Shirley Melis is convinced she will never find another man like Joe. Then she meets John, a younger man who tells her during their first conversation that he has lived for many years with a rare but manageable cancer. She is swept off her feet in a whirlwind courtship, and within months, made brave by the early death of a friend's husband, she asks him to marry her! What follows is a year-long odyssey of travel and a growing erotic and creative partnership—until a mysterious bump on John's forehead proves to be one of several tumors in his brain and spine. The nine months that follow are filled with a life-threatening infection, three brain surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy. Two years and one week after their wedding, John dies at the age of fifty-nine.

More than just a love story or a memoir of mourning, Banged-Up Heart comes down solidly on the side of life. It takes you deep inside an ordinary woman, her deeply felt grief butting up against her desire for more than companionship: passion, sexual fulfillment, and self-realization. It bears eloquent witness to the wild trust it takes to fall madly in love and risk profound loss—a second time. Ultimately, it shows that it is possible to dance with a banged-up heart.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781938288708
Publisher:
Terra Nova Books
Publication date:
02/14/2017
Pages:
300
Sales rank:
496,558
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

On my first trip back, I carried John’s pack with a bottle of water, a PBJ sandwich in his honor, tortilla chips, my small camera and a copy of Kim’s remarks at the memorial service. When I emerged from the forest into the clearing, my pulse quickened. I could see the tree but not the cairn. What if it wasn’t there? What if some animal or insensitive human had destroyed it? I picked up my pace until I was standing next to the fir. The cairn was intact, the ashes still visible. Whew!

Sitting cross-legged, I pulled out Kim’s remarks and started reading, sometimes reading aloud the words he spoke at the service. Before I got to the end of the poem by Anne Lamott, I was sobbing.

“If you haven’t already,

You will lose someone you can’t live without,

And your heart will be badly broken,

And you will never get over the loss of a deeply beloved person.”

I closed my eyes, letting the sound of water breaking against rocks rocket through me. I would never get over it. How could I? The loss was too great.

“When we married,” I said, gazing at the cairn, “I never imagined anything but being with you day and night. We never discussed the possibility of a foreshortened life together, and even when you were dying we never talked about my life without you. You must have sensed the profound sadness that lay ahead of me. Double suicide would have been a blessing, but I didn’t want to die. Not then.

“And now you’re inside me so much that I don’t know what is me and what is you. It’s as though we’re one. With every breath, with every step I take, I feel you’re with me. I can’t differentiate between us. That comforts me, and it confuses me. Who am I? Am I nothing without you? If I’m nothing, how do I live? I thought I could—but now I’m not sure.”

I pulled a tissue from my jeans pocket and wiped my cheeks. “As if summoned, you appeared when I was trying to make a life for myself without Joe. It was you who brought me back to life, you who reached for my hand that night when I told you how Joe died. And when you reached for my hand, it was as though you were lifting me out of my grief. With sensitivity and persistence you rekindled my zest for living. My dulled senses came alive. Because of you I learned to appreciate good coffee, wine, single malt Scotch and ethnic foods. Your love of jazz became mine. You introduced me to the Southwest. You adopted my dreams, and I yours, and together we forged new ones. And now it’s all over.

Meet the Author

“Remember, Shirley, YOU are alive!” These words from a virtual stranger changed Shirley Melis’s life. Widowed nearly two years, she took off her wedding rings and stepped out of her cocoon. Wings barely dry, she fell madly in love with a man who shared her dreams of travel and encouraged her writing. His untimely death at fifty-nine left her a widow for the second time in four years. Disbelieving and longing to recapture the reality of their star-crossed love, she started writing the deeply personal account of love and loss that became Banged Up Heart.

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