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Lynn Hummel: Split — more broken hearts

There have been a lot of broken hearts in our family. The formula is simple: one of your kids has a romance with a guy or gal that the family learns to love. Then they break up for reasons the family never learns. The kid moves on to another romance and the family never ─ or rarely ─ gets to see the old boyfriend or girlfriend again and aches for the loss. The kid gets to say goodbye but the family never does.

It all started years ago when our daughter Goldilocks kept bringing Billy Bob over to our home. He was soft spoken, quiet, sincere and hard working. If he had been a puppy, he would have curled up on your lap, looked up at you with big brown eyes and shown you so much affection, you just had to love him. And we did. Then one day we were told it was over. For us, no explanation, no goodbye and no more Billy Bob ─ big time broken hearts. Now we wonder where he is, what he’s doing and we hope he’s happy and doing well.

Next, Goldi’s younger brother, Buckwheat, had a sweetheart named Sunflower. We didn’t see her that often and didn’t get to know her that well, but we liked her. After a while, we noticed we hadn’t seen her or heard her name for a long while. So I asked our 20 year old son — “what’s the deal with Sunflower?” I’ll never forget his answer: “Well, she sort of dusted me off.” We weren’t close enough to have our hearts broken, but Buckwheat was, and it wasn’t his worst.

Then, along came their younger sister, Cinderella. She brought this clunk home for a weekend. This dud’s idea of being a house guest was to be a couch potato and see all the football games on every channel. He turned Cindy and her parents off at the same time and in short order. We never saw him again. So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye. Audios. No broken hearts in this story.

One of my favorites happened to Mary Lou, who later became my sister-in-law. She was dating this guy Wilbur and they went on a picnic where there were other couples. At some point, the guys started throwing a football around. Mary Lou watched Wilbur throw the football and she couldn’t believe her eyes. He not only had a very weak throwing arm, but he threw like somebody’s nine year old sister. Wilbur didn’t just fail to get into the starting lineup, he was cut from the roster. Did she ever tell him what he looked like throwing that football? I hope not. There had to be more to it than a throwing form. In any event, we never saw Wilbur again.

This breakup happened in the life of a friend. Romeo and Juliet were sweethearts all through high school. Then the first year after high school they both went to the same college ─ a small college. Juliet discovered new horizons in college and Romeo wasn’t on them. When she told him about her new horizons, he became angry and grabbed her forcefully by the arm. She immediately punched him in the face. All this was witnessed by Romeo’s buddies. All breakups are not peaceful. From that time on they avoided one another. Juliet went to another college the following year. They bumped into one another regularly at high school reunions, but still stayed at opposite sides of the room. They had no conversations until the 50th class reunion. Now they’re cordial, but the flame, once snuffed, never flickered again.

Now here we are, a generation later. Goldilock’s daughter, our very own granddaughter, Blossom, has been bringing Freddy home for family Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations and summer weekends for almost two years. She’s been at his home many times. Freddy is friendly, smart, quiet, good looking and ambitious. You can’t help but like him ─ love him. This situation looked like a serious, permanent deal ─ headed for the altar. Then last week, Blossom told Freddy it was over (we think that means “over for the time being.”) The reasons seemed vague and unclear to us. Freddy’s heart is broken, Blossom’s is broken and the hearts of her parents and grandparents are broken. Usually broken hearts heal, but not always. There are lots of songs that attest to broken hearts never healing and loves that are never forgotten.

Breakups happen every day in almost every family. They’re among the fender benders and train wrecks of life. They’re one of the ways we sort out our relationships as we go along. We can say “well, that’s the way it goes, such is life.” But we can’t talk our way out of the pain ─ the absolute heartbreak.