Having your heart broken isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

I was reminded of this recently when a friend from college wrote me with news of a tougher-than-usual break-up with a woman he had been seeing.

It’s a long and drawn out story and the details are inconsequential to the ultimate outcome that resulted in my friend being left with a broken heart and a shattered ego.

He was madly in love with this woman and despite having felt like he was crystal clear with his undying devotion to her, she decided one day that she simply didn’t love him anymore.

There’s a reason why doctors suggest you have your tonsils and wisdom teeth removed when you are a child. The same can be said about dealing with a broken heart. As an adult, the trauma is harder. The recovery time is longer.

In full disclosure, I’m not all that removed myself from my last broken heart and I can attest to the fact it’s not much fun to experience as an adult.

My friend and I traded emails a few months ago and the word at the time was that marriage was on the horizon – a monumental feat for a guy who had never seen a relationship reach the six-week mark, much less six months.

As I sat there this weekend and read his email about the painful details of the break-up, I couldn’t help but think about the first time my own heart was broken.

My first love (or at least the closest thing to it that a 10-year-old boy is capable of understanding) was a blonde-haired girl with pigtails named Kerri Beth Willis. She had great big eyes that were as blue as the ocean.

Kerri Beth was the first girl I ever kissed, although I’m not sure there is a stopwatch fast enough to record the length of the peck on the lips we exchanged that spring day on the elementary school playground.

I fell for her fast and hard and I just knew that she and I would be together forever. I can vividly remember falling to sleep with her on my mind and being amazed when I realized that I was still thinking about her when I woke up the next morning.

And just like that, it was over. She dumped me for Jason Engles, a kid who lived down the street from me.

I was devastated.

She and I tried to rekindle things a few other times over the years – including once in middle school when holding hands between classes was the pre-pubescent equivalent of tying the knot.

I don’t remember why she ended our relationship that time, but I do remember that it was equally as devastating for me.

Over the years, I had other relationships that ended, but most of the time the shoe was on the other foot and it never seemed to hurt as bad when I was the one initiating the break-up.

Kerri and I remained close friends throughout high school and into college and we would phone each other from time to time – usually to get some advice from each other about relationship troubles we were having with other people.

Ironically, she ended up marrying a guy named David that she met in college and as far as I know, they continue to live happily ever after in a small town in western Oklahoma where David coaches high school football and Kerri is a wonderful mother to their two handsome sons

She and I haven’t spoken in a number of years, but I still think about her every now and again when I make eye contact with someone who has great big eyes that are as blue as the ocean.

I was married for 22 years to the mother of my four sons. We were high school sweethearts who grew up – and apart – together.

I remember going through my divorce proceedings and thinking that I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.

Regardless of who is to “blame,” it’s hard not to feel like a failure when something as permanent as a marriage falls apart.

As I read my friend’s email last week, I couldn’t help but think about my four sons and the heartbreaks they have already faced and the others they have waiting ahead of them.

Finding the right words to comfort someone is often difficult regardless if you’re talking to your child, your friend, or yourself. Hearing those words of comfort isn’t always easy either.

In the end, maybe the best thing to do is try to remember what the novelist Samuel Butler once said: “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

Even if it hurts like hell.

David Gustafson is the not-so-mild-mannered editor of the Chagrin Valley Times, Solon Times, and Geauga Times Courier. Drop him an email to: editor@chagrinvalleytimes.com.

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