“If there’s empty spaces in your heart,
They’ll make you think it’s wrong,
Like having empty spaces,
Means you never can be strong,
But I’ve learned that all these spaces,
Means there’s room enough to grow,
And the people that once filled them,
Were always meant to be let go,
And all these empty spaces,
Create a strange sort of pull,
That attract so many people,
You wouldn’t meet if they were full,
So if you’re made of empty spaces,
Don’t ever think it’s wrong,
Because maybe they’re just empty,
Until the right person comes along.”
— Ernest Hemingway
I don’t like to think of love as a solution to these empty spaces. I don’t like to think of us having empty spaces at all, just pieces of ourselves that haven’t been discovered yet, but were already there, always there from the beginning. Reminders we can always grow and reshape and change—never missing anything, even as we bend and fall and break.
I like knowing that we are already whole, and love is simply an addition to that. That finding a person won’t fill us, but compliment us. And maybe it’s not about ‘filling’ any spaces at all, but balancing one another out—opposites attract—finding all the things we’re less comfortable with and spreading ourselves across one another until everything fits like a beautiful patchwork quilt.
Like finding someone who loves to cook where you can’t make a grilled cheese, or loving someone who’s good at math and can calculate the tip at a restaurant while you proofread their emails—not finding someone who ‘fills’ in the sense that you are not enough, but helps you bloom with what you are inherently good at—celebrating the way love brings differences together, brings two complete and unique people into one.
So maybe you had it wrong, Hemingway, we’re not actually missing anything, especially from the ones who left.
Maybe we’re not searching for something because all we need is already within us. We’re simply hoping to stumble into someone who will love all our imperfection, all the broken pieces we’re still trying to mend, as we love theirs in return.
Maybe we’ve never been carrying around emptiness because lost love gave us a painful feeling and never took anything away. Maybe our hopes were clipped but our stems are rooted, digging deeper into the soil, finding new ways to grow.
Maybe our hearts are still perfectly intact, just a little bruised. And we aren’t looking for someone to heal these unhealable bruises, but love us with softness until they don’t hurt anymore.
Maybe the right person won’t be an answer, but a moment where everything makes sense. And not to say that we’ll fall into a ‘happily ever after,’ or life will suddenly be perfect and nothing will ever go wrong, but we’ll understand why the past ones never worked out, why we couldn’t find ourselves fighting for anyone else, why we don’t need them to fix us but to meet us right where we are.
Maybe we’ll see we were never looking for emptiness to be filled, but a heart that made ours feel even fuller—like returning to ourselves, like coming home.