"Grandpa, why are there so many cracks in the pavement?”
The young girl had just left her house with her grandfather on their routine evening stroll through the neighborhood. She was kicking a small pebble through the narrow streets, and when it became too far away, she would skip after it but never moved very far from her grandpa. Modest houses lined the cracked street and even though her family had a small house, she liked having her grandpa around because he told many whimsical tales. The grandpa’s wisdom was apparent on his face, and his gait was steady and confident, always keeping up with the energetic girl.
“What makes you wonder that?” her grandpa asked.
“There are so many cracks and they are all different sizes and shapes,” replied the girl.
“Well…” the story behind the cracks was meaningful and he was hesitant to tell the entire story because his granddaughter was only seven years old. Yet, in the Native culture, it was expected to answer a child’s questions truthfully, “Today’s world is difficult and people face a lot of hardships,” he continued before pausing again. A cool breeze blew gently through the humid air, breaking the summer night’s heat and tousling the girl’s long black hair. “When someone’s heart breaks so does a piece of our world, creating valleys, caves, and even cracks in the road.”
“What’s the story of this one?” she inquired excitedly, gesturing to a large pothole in the pavement. In her mind, she had discovered a new game and just wanted to hear another enchanting story from her grandpa.
“That story is not mine to tell. As for the size, that depends on the impact the event had on a person,” replied her grandpa. “Do you remember how when last week you lost your teddy bear for three days, it felt devastating?” The girl looked hurt by the reminder, but he continued, “That only created a small crack—”
“Like this one?” the girl, now subdued, cautiously asked as she pointed to a small sliver in the pavement. “Yes, like that. It only created a small crack because later in life, when you are older, you will experience much more significant events,” he said softly because she could never understand what he meant until she experienced deep heartbreak. “Understand?”
“But Grandpa, everything is going to be okay, like mama told me,” she said confidently. Her grandpa smiled sadly at her innocence as the girl did not yet understand that it was the inevitable fate of everyone to experience heartbreak. He took her hand with his own, which was callous and hardened from the challenges he had faced, gave it a gentle squeeze and said, “I hope so.” She looked up at him as he gazed into her deep brown eyes while he whispered again, “I sure hope so.”
Being so young, the girl was unable to recognize her grandpa’s solemn mood, and naively asked, “Grandpa, what is the greatest heartbreak you know of?”
The grandpa looked off into the sunset and closed his eyes for a moment before responding, “When I was about your age, my father told me a story, a legend from our culture which explained one of the largest cracks in the earth. A long time ago, when our people were first put on this earth, there was a great sorrow known—that we would eventually be conquered by settlers of the ‘New World.’ As time grew closer and closer to the impending takeover, the land here in the Americas could feel it, so little by little, it began to split. The hole was started hundreds of years ago and continues to grow even today as the environment is pushed further to the side in current day issues. One day I will take you there to see it—the heartbreak of not only a people, but a great land.”
“What is it?” the little girl wondered.
“The Grand Canyon,” he responded with a soft smile tugging the corner of his cheeks.
By this time, they had completed their usual route and were walking up the short driveway to the front door when the girl innocently asked, “But, Grandpa, what about this crack?” She pointed from the bottom of the driveway to the top where a crack 5 inches wide ran. “What caused this one?”
Sighing, her grandpa explained, “I have come to believe that crack is my greatest heartbreak—that I will leave you with a world that is built by fear, not love; mistrust, not honesty; and uncertainty, not peace.”