3 thoughts on glass hearts and courage

Road trip! Three Mountain States in nineteen days. I’ve been to a gorgeous high-altitude ranch above Aspen, Colorado; a Utah ski resort busy with summertime activity; and as I write this, I’m holed away in a cozy, remote cabin in Idaho.


Photo: Pixabay


It seems I’m not afraid of road trips alone. Or staying in remote places alone. Yet, for all my bravado, there is something I’m a little afraid of.

But I’m getting ahead of the story.

The story is about my friend, Rose, and her husband, Tom, who own the Rocky Mountain ranch high above Aspen.

Not too long after both their spouses died, Tom and Rose met in Sayulita, Mexico, in a winter community of part-time ex-pats. They talked for hours, and discovered a kindred-spiritedness.

It had long been Rose’s desire to walk the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route through Spain. Which also happened to be a goal of Tom’s.

And so they walked it together — six hundred miles — beginning in France and extending to the Atlantic Ocean on the west coast of Spain.

And along the way, they got married.


Tom & Rose on their wedding day in Spain


The wedding took all of an hour and a half to plan. New friends they met along the pilgrimage route whisked Rose away to purchase a lovely, lacy dress, and Tom was accompanied to a shop for a white shirt.

About thirty or so fellow pilgrim travelers made up the wedding guest list. The reception was lively, followed by a quieter, more intimate gathering over dinner.

I met Tom for the first time this past week at his off-the-grid Rocky Mountain ranch powered by solar and propane.


My little guest cabin on Tom & Rose’s Colorado ranch


Tom and Rose insisted on the three of us doing Friday date night together (for new readers, I’ve been keeping Friday date night alone since my husband, Gary, died nearly three years ago).

We drove split-rail-fence-lined country roads with aspen trees beginning to show off their autumn finery; we toured through Anderson Ranch Arts Center where Tom and Rose, knowing how much I love old barns and outbuildings, let me shoot photos to my heart’s content (talk about true friendship) …


Anderson Ranch Arts Center — Snowmass Village, CO


… and we stopped to feast on delicious fish tacos at a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Aspen just below the ski lifts that take winter guests up into the mountains. It was the most fun I’ve had on a Friday date since Gary died.

So, back to the something I’m a little afraid of: Even though lately I’ve had an ever-so-slight desire to maybe, hesitantly, cautiously date, it’s the potential for marriage that scares me.

And I haven’t been able to analyze exactly why. Perhaps because it represents a major change, and maybe I’m trusting God with everything in my life but this, and possibly because I’ve become a bit set in my single ways (as in, popcorn for dinner whenever I want).

But Tom and Rose, with their later-in-life marriage and so appreciative of each other after experiencing the death of their spouses, unwittingly stirred up courage within me.

Rose loaned a book to me that I had read a few years back but wanted to read again — Here If You Need Me — by Kate Braestrup whose state trooper husband was killed in the line of duty.

Toward the end of the book, Braestrup writes about burying a beloved family pet and arranging stones so wild creatures couldn’t dig up the grave:

Go ahead. Arrange and rearrange the stones on top of your beloved’s grave. … [Then] leave the stones where they are, but take your heart with you. Your heart is not a stone. True love demands that, like a bride with her bouquet, you toss your fragile glass heart into the waiting crowd of living hands and trust that they will catch it.

Rose tossed her glass heart about the same time Tom tossed his. And both hearts were caught and held and cherished. Which speaks to me of courage and audacity and trust.

I think what I’ve known in my head, but it’s making its way more deeply into my heart, is this:

1. Love is a risk. 

And actually, so many of life’s positive outcomes involve risk: Starting a business, applying for med school, seeking to get a book published, begetting children, applying for non-profit status, writing a grant. Yes, and falling in love again after experiencing a fine marriage. Without risk, cool things don’t come about.

2. Opening our hearts to one another could involve moments of brimming pain.

I could someday remarry and then find myself widowed in a handful of years. Who wants to experience that kind of high-volume sorrow twice?

3. Love anyway. 

Take a deep breath. Toss your heart. Love and be loved.

Is love worth the risk of more brimming pain? Oh, yes. I think yes.

What about you? Have you had an experience with your glass heart being caught and cherished? I’d love to hear about it.

P.S. If you found this post helpful or hopeful, please share, tweet or pin!


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  1. Kim

    So take that (next) step forward in your life, whatever that might be.
    That leap of faith and live, love, laugh, life to its fullest as the Lord intended.

    That’s my kind of wedding, not a lot of planning and expense.
    With your friends around you as guests.

    • Wise words, Kim: “… take that leap of faith and live, love, laugh life to its fullest as the Lord intended.”

      And should I ever remarry, my goal is to plan the wedding in an hour and a half (well, maybe a day and a half). smile.

  2. That quote alone makes me want to read that book. Such bravery, Marlys. Thank you for living bravely.

  3. Barbara

    My dear, you mask your “self dependent wimpiness and fear” so admirably from me. You are a treasure!

  4. Darrell

    Hi Marlys… I for sure recognize that Idaho Cabin. What a beautiful peaceful place for sure. Seems we all need such places at times in our lives for a number of reasons. I again enjoyed your thoughts and really have nothing to add to them other than there is always risk in “Love” whether is it one’s first love or following. Telling people to take a chance on love is like telling them to get wet when they shower: There is no other way. We all know that there is no love without risk and loss. It’s true, one can live without romantic love and avoid the messiness of breakups, the weirdness of in-laws, and the tedium of another person’s annoying habits and all the rest that comes with living with another but I have to believe that the rewards (joy & happiness) out weigh those risks. I won’t mention names here but I had a classmate who never married and at one of our class reunions, he was asked as to why he hadn’t married? His response was…”Well, just look at the success rate of my classmates with this thing you call marriage, the hurt, and all the pain. Why would I want that?” Perhaps true.. One certainly makes themselves more vulnerable to hurt and pain but… I remember sitting on top of a mountain alone in my single days watching an incredible sunset. It would have been twice as enjoyable and beautiful sharing it with one you love. And yes the the risk of loss will always be there, none of us have any guarantees for sure and loss will surely come to one or the other at some point but what about that time between now and then. Surely it has to be worth it. You certainly are in our thoughts and prayers…

    • Regarding sitting on a mountaintop – alone – watching an incredible sunset: “It would have been twice as enjoyable and beautiful sharing it with one you love” … true words, Darrell. Thank you.

  5. Marcia Musial

    I’m happy to hear that you are open to having a “person”, but I also understand the fear. You’ve come a long way and built a nice life.

  6. Mike H

    Marlys, great read. Love is worth sharing regardless of the potential risk of pain… How do I know??? For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. Keep up the blog as it truly inspirational…

  7. My (now) wife & I have been followers of yours since first reading your blog through Widowed Village. We are both widowed, having lost our spouses within weeks of each other in the spring of 2016. We met through a series of contacts on WV after realizing that there were a great number of similarities in our life stories.While neither of us were looking for, or expecting, new “partners” in life, we found ourselves drawn to each other. Despite our inconvenient distance from each other (greater NYC area to greater Atlanta area), we found a way to meet, court, fall in love and marry (as of September 19, 2017). We are totally happy!

    It felt like the right thing to do, right away, even though we both had very happy marriages. Perhaps because we weren’t looking, or maybe due to cosmic forces beyond our control, or possibly the greatest of luck ever, we found each other and look forward to completing our time on this earth together, happy and in love. But we were open to the possibility, even though we weren’t looking for, or expecting to find, new love. And that is our advice to anyone who asks how we managed to start a new chapter in our lives … just be open to that possibility, don’t let your sorrow and pain bury you to the point where you can no longer see the good things in life.

    We write a small blog for our friends & family to follow us as our new life unfolds, perhaps you may find some stories/topics of interest to you http://www.jerseytogeorgia.blogspot.com

    Thank you for your on-going writing, we have found it to be most helpful and enjoyable over the past 18 months!
    Peace, Ed & Sheila

    • I love your story, Ed & Sheila! Thanks for sharing your love story and your wisdom: “ … don’t let your sorrow and pain bury you to the point where you can no longer see the good things in life.” I will check out your blog!

  8. Peter Howe B.E.M.

    As you know Marlys, we’ve just come home from holidaying in Rosas, Spain… I’ve just read this one and I’d just like to say, “On previous visits to Rosas, my Barbara and I have cycled so many wonderful areas of Spain and over into France, however my Barbara can’t cycle anymore… the nerve damage caused by radiotherapy is making it hard for her joints and muscles….. so, I hired a wheel chair and we spent ‘a different time of togetherness’. It wasn’t easy, especially pushing up those hills but ‘we got there in the end'”. My point from your blog is simply that, we found a new, slower and more intense awareness of our ‘being there, together’. The saddest awareness is that ‘things won’t physically get better for Barbara’ but ‘rearranging care and compassion’, writing new words and singing a new love song which touched many hearts when I sang it at our hotel….. and all because of ‘our present stage of togetherness & love’. With this blog you took us to Spain and we were there to share it, thank you. God Bless, Barbara & Peter. PS : It was a second thought BUT I really aught to have gone busking on the sea front marina……… I did sit out at sun set on a few evenings and just played for myself.. and anyone who happened to be there. The final night/birthday party celebration… was where ‘That’s why I love you’ was aired.

  9. Peter Howe B.E.M.

    Thank you Marlys, encouragement counts for so much and your words are so appreciated. God Bless, B & P
    PS : playing around with more words for this song and I can’t get the ‘How, when, where, what and why out of my head.. perhaps there’s more to come.

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