Tears

April 3, 2007 at 3:01 pm (Uncategorized)

I’ve been crying a lot lately.  I’ve been crying when I’m sad.  I’ve been crying when I’m scared.  I’ve been crying when I feel a sharp thrust of regret.  I’ve been crying when I think of the past.  I’ve been crying when I think of the future.  I’ve been crying when I see something beautiful, especially when it is fleeting.  I’ve been crying when my body hurts.  I’ve been crying when my heart hurts.  I’ve been crying when I feel grateful for all the love and support I receive.  I’ve been crying to my mom on the phone.  I’ve been crying on Jay’s shoulder so much that I’ve completely sodden his shirt.  I’ve been crying when I tiptoe into Andrew’s room and watch him sleep.  With all the crying I’ve been doing, we should mine the salt and make a small profit.

Usually, I’m not a crying type of person.  Ever since I was a little girl, I have found crying to be a messy inconvenience, an activity that ruins my mascara, fills my head up with snot, and leaves me feeling spent and sniveling.  So, I’ve typically swallowed my tears.  I like to feel self-contained, impervious to pain.  Crying has always made me feel weak, and if there is one thing I hate, it is feeling weak.  It’s not that I don’t want other people to see me as weak, but simply that I don’t want to feel weak– especially now when it seems that my life is high wire act in which I have to juggle a chronic illness, a small boy, a marriage, work– all at fifty feet above the ground.  It feels like misty eyes could very well make me drop all the balls and slip and fall.

The fact that I am writing about my current weepiness indicates that I am changing my views on the crying means weakness equation I’ve been following for most of my life.  Or maybe I’m just contemplating changing the equation.  Either way, it’s a shift for me.

I don’t want to play a sonata of self-pity, but my life is sad right now.  I live in constant pain from the sarcoidosis in my joints.  I also live in constant fear that the sarcoidosis in my heart will re-surge and cause me to keel over one fine afternoon.  Now, I know that lots of folks have medical problems far more debilitating and far more serious than mine.  Like I said, I’m not hosting a pity party.  But I’m learning (or trying to) that there is a difference between writing out embossed pity party invitations and recognizing the sadness in my life.

What makes me cry the most is when it occurs to me that this is not how I expected my life to be.  Of course, I know that no one gets to live the life of their dreams.  But in truth I feel my expectations were never the stuff of fantasies.  It’s not like I pictured an existence of wealth and servants.  Really, what I wanted was to live in a place I found beautiful, to go for hikes, to raise my child to believe there is more to life than consumerism, to do meaningful work, to love my partner, to matter to the world in some way.  It’s been hard to adjust to a life frequently spent in bed, to regular trips to the emergency room, to struggling to find the energy to work, to heaping extra pressure on my husband, to limping around the house on arthritic feet, and to having to turn over some of the care of my child to Andrea.   I think those losses warrant some tears.

But my crying isn’t all about not having what I want.  Yesterday, when my head felt like it was spinning seven million miles an hour, I went outside for a walk.  And miraculously, as soon as my feet hit the pavement, it began to snow– giant, spring snowflakes that were big enough that I could almost see their crystalline structure as they fell from the sky.  As it snowed, the sun emerged from the clouds and illuminated the hills and mountains surrounding out town, and made the snowflakes magically glow.  It was spectacular.  It was beautiful.  It felt like a sign from the heavens.  I cried the whole time I walked.  I didn’t care that people driving by swivelled their heads to watch the weird crying woman out walking in the snow.  I didn’t care that my nose was running.  I’m not even sure why I was crying.  But I think it was because the inexplicable beauty of the day caught me off guard and made me realize how precious my moments on this earth are and how fleeing they are.  How very fleeting.

It’s Passover now.  As part the seder– the ritual retelling of the Jews’ exodus from slavery in Egypt– you dip some type of green, like parsley (called karpas) into salt water.  If the karpas serve to remind us of spring, of the blossoming of new life and new freedom, then the salt water is to have us recollect the tears of our enslaved ancestors– and of all those unjustly enslaved now.  It also speaks to me on a personal level.  With every change, with every movement, with every growth, comes sadness.  And pretending the sadness isn’t there does a disservice to the growth and the renewal.  At least that’s what I’m telling myself when the tears start again, and I feel as if in some way, I am struggling to emerge– salty, but whole.

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