i’m not sure when it happened.
i remember being 25 years old and not being able to cry. i remember a specific moment in my life when i thought, "other people cry. i see them. but i don’t. i never do.
i never cry."
i didn’t know why. "i must be stopped-up somehow," i thought. stuck. like an old drain that needs un-clogging. someday the dam will burst and all that crying, all those tears, will just come pouring out.
i’m not exactly sure when it happened, but somewhere in my late thirties i started crying. and i haven’t stopped to this day.
now it happens at the drop of a hat, with little to no warning. music is usually the trigger for me: a sweet, simple song; an old tune that no one else quite remembers; or something new but with the right something-or-other to just reach in and - what did i say once? reach in and grab my heart, rip it out of my chest and hold it in front of me so i can actually see it beating. “just in case you forgot this sloppy, living, bloody thing was here, take a good look. it’s beating away - pa-boom, pa-boom, pa-boom - non-stop, until…well. until.”
if i don’t consciously stop the tears from coming, i can just sob. i can sob with the best of them. every now and then i hear my mother’s crying in my own. when it first happened, it scared me. stopped me in my tracks. i was immediately a young boy, lying in bed, wondering what that terrible sound was - then realizing it was my mother crying in the family room. it doesn't scare me anymore. now, in some strange way, it’s a comfort. hearing her crying in my own.
rarely is it a sad thing. it’s not saying goodbye, heartache. sometimes, sure. but more often than not, it’s a good thing. something sweet and joyous and life-affirming.
and sometimes i think, "i wish those young people knew what i was crying about. i wish they had some idea. i wish they could feel the joy and the pain and the strength and the fear all at once, just like this. i wish they knew."
and then i remember…they will.
one day, they will.
(photo by my friend marlene handrahan)