Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dear Hilary, Love, Hilary: The Front Porch of Your Heart

Dear Hilary,

I'm graduating. There, I said it. I hate saying it. I'm leaving people that I love. I'm leaving relationships that are new and fragile, that have had life for so little time. What if they fall apart? What if when I leave, I can't keep all these people in my heart, or in my life? What do I do when I have to say goodbye and I know it's the end, and the chances of seeing them again are so small, barely even real? They're going. I'm staying. We're all leaving.


Dear Leaving,

For a long time now, I have described my heart as a house. I talked about the rooms I build for people, according to what I know about them. Some rooms are living rooms with soft white couches and lots of blankets, rooms for the people I love to curl up and be safe. Other rooms are decorated like jungles and are filled with unexpected treasures, because those people love to adventure and imagine. And still other rooms are kitchens where we sit at old wooden tables and drink tea and tell stories. I want my heart to be like coming home to people. I want to carry hearts in my heart. I want to love by building a place for you, with your name on it.

The beautiful thing about this metaphor is that it helps describe the agony of departure, and the hope. Sometimes people move out of my heart. I come back to their room and discover that they've packed boxes, erased their name from the door. I walk through the empty space and I remember, and it breaks my heart. And I know there are people I've hurt in the same way, packed my own boxes and moved out without telling them, without a word of goodbye. This is heartbreak: to discover that sometimes, we cannot live in the hearts of those we love. Sometimes, we must say goodbye. 

So here you are, in the house of your heart. And there are boxes everywhere, people shuffling, unpacking, repacking, sitting on the floor and laughing or crying or drinking red wine straight from the bottle. There is no certainty who is going where. There is no certainty whether the people you love now will be there forever, and I urge you to accept this as a part of it all. A part of living, even a part of loving.

So I come to my words to you today: let people linger on the front porch of your heart. 

Leave your lights on. Make sweet tea and lemonade and let the people you love, who are so new to your life, pull up chairs or a bit of dusty floor and stay for a while. Don't rush them out because you're afraid they'll break your heart with their leaving. Don't hide from people. Don't overplan how each conversation will go and what you will say and do.

Instead, spend these next ten days on the front porch of your heart, and love fully the people who are there. Maybe they will move into the house in the next six months. Maybe you just get ten days with them. Maybe it's something in between. But let them sit with you on that front porch and love them.

None of you yet know whose heart you will carry for how long. None of you yet know who you will become to each other. It's terrifying to think that you could care for someone who won't be in your life later. That will always be true. But it's also always true that they are worth knowing for those ten days. People are worth sitting with on the front porch of your heart, always.

So let them linger there, and love them fully. I promise the home of your heart is richer and more beautiful for it.

Love, always,


  1. Just wow. 

    There is so much wisdom in this post.  I am going to take your metaphor with me . . . just to savor it a little longer.  And to imagine what kind of room each person in my life needs. 

    Really riveting, Hilary.  So glad I stopped by. :)

  2. oh, the leaving is hard. but we linger while we can and lean in close. blessings to you and your next steps:)

  3. Thank you, Kelli. I'm so glad you stopped by, too. I love imagining what the rooms in my heart look like. 

  4. Yes, suzannah - we linger while we can. That, exactly. Thank you for stopping by - blessings on the rest of your week.

  5. spend time ont he front porch of your heart and just love hte people that are there...a very cool way of putting it...i think it is important to grieve the passing of people that were important to us as well but also to look forward to the next inhabitants of our heart...smiles.

  6. I think you've captured the true spirit of hospitality, with the post: to offer your time and care to those who would enjoy your time with them without crying over those who don't choose to join the party.

  7. this carrying hearts in your heart, this is beautiful, friend. i love how you minister to yourself and to us... xo


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