Love’s undeniable warranty

Michele Savaunah Zirkle Marcum

Hearts don’t come with warranties or receipts. Neither does love. There’s no tags to clip or owner’s manual to read. There’s no maintenance suggestions for optimal performance—no 30-day money back guarantee. Love from the heart, is given and received “as is,” but sometimes we give our hearts away, then want them back.

My grandfather died of a heart attack when I was nineteen. I’d slipped into bed that evening after shouting my usual Walton’s-style, “Goodnight Johnboy,” to the rest of the household. The wee hours brought the news. Grandpa Happy was in ICU and could die any moment.

My sister and I were too young to be permitted into his room; so, Dad walked us to the window of the one-story hospital where we got a peek at the man whose heart was now beating with the help of a machine. He died hours later.

I chastised myself for not giving him a longer hug before bed. I’d been so absorbed in my TV show that I only vaguely noticed him passing by in his blue flannel robe, a cup of coffee in hand. I’d wished grandpa’s heart had a warranty, and I was angry at God because it didn’t. I was mad at Grandpa, too, even though it didn’t make sense to be, but him just vanishing out of my life didn’t make any sense either.

As the days blurred by, my uncle enlisted my aid in cleaning out Grandpa’s closet. Folded shirts still wrapped in plastic lined the shelves, pants with tags hung from the racks. He had so many nice, new clothes; yet, most Sunday’s he’d worn the same blue polyester pant suit, during weekdays, the same flannel work shirt and brown pants. It appeared he’d been saving the new wardrobe for special occasions—ones that probably came and went. “Now,” I thought, “he can’t enjoy the new clothes at all.” If he hadn’t wanted them, why hadn’t he returned them to the store?

I’m not a heavy-duty shopper, but I do enjoy finding that unique piece of jewelry and buying those pants that fit just right. The other day I pulled on a sweater I’d purchased, without a visit to the fitting room, and realized the sleeves were too long. It looked sloppy; so, I returned it.

This Valentine’s Day, I find myself wondering what the return policy is on love. Can love once given simply be recalled by the giver? If so, what’s an acceptable time frame in which to permit the return or are we obligated to allow an infinite deadline to those wanting reimbursed for a former love commitment? Maybe there shouldn’t be and can’t be a guideline for accepting that someone who once loved us no longer extends that love to us either because they died or just vanished from our lives one mile at a time.

A love refund of this magnitude could bankrupt one’s soul. The restocking fee may be too great—the current market value of a healthy heart, bursting with love each beat, must be priceless.

I’d have paid a million dollars to have replaced grandpa’s. I wonder if he could’ve survived with a refurbished heart beating inside of him? I wish he’d been given that chance. I wish all the love that’s pulsed through my heart since its first beat, would’ve come with a warranty, too. Life happens. Hearts break. Hearts stop beating.

We can’t force someone to accept our love, nor can we refuse a refund when they reject it. We can close our customer service counter and turn off the lights, but the inevitable transaction will happen with or without a receipt.

Love is energy and there’s no paper trail for that. Sometimes there’s only a trail of tears leading to the alter inside of ourselves—the one that heals all wounds, binds each broken wishbone. Sometimes the only way to revive a rejected, broken heart is to let love flow from the divine repair shop in the sky where all love is reciprocated and let it nourish us—one heartbeat at a time.

Michele Savaunah Zirkle Marcum

Michele can be reached at or Access more at\lifespeaks.

Michele can be reached at or Access more at\lifespeaks.