15 May 2012
I made a comment on twitter today (yeah, I know, what’s new?) and it flew directly out of my heart into cyber-space.
It caused a ripple of consternation. What do you mean you can’t cry? Did it mean I was happier than I’d ever been, or that I was exhausted? Are tears finite? Like heartbeats are rumoured to be. You have an allocated quota the romantic notion goes, and then you have no more. Your heart stops. Your tears too, could be finite?
What I meant was, that in spite of many reasons to cry, of many tears I could have let fall, I have none left. They are absent. It’s an interesting notion. Crying, as we all know is cathartic. It is messy and ugly, and sometimes, but rarely, crying is beautiful. It is cleansing and a relief.
I have plenty of things to get worked up about, to be angry about, but I just haven’t cried for a while. It seems a long time. While I cried an awful lot during Benedict’s first year, for all sorts of reasons, my best ever crying, my most non-stop epic crying marathon, was at a funeral.
As I stood on the driveway of my mother’s house, I sternly wagged my finger at my whole family. ‘No one is to cry’ I shouted at them. ‘No one’. They nodded meekly, what else could they do? We got in the cars. I was dry eyed. Everyone else, too scared to disobey me, was too. And then we rounded a corner and drove up to the forecourt of the church. Lined up, dressed up, standing solemnly, were our friends. Brave and true they were, eyes downcast, waiting for us to arrive. I immediately felt my eyes well. Horribly, I couldn’t stop. At all. For neither love, nor sense of occasion, I couldn’t stop.
I got out of the car. I greeted our guests. Nodded and smiled with huge, heavy, fat, hot tears running down my face. I walked inside, still crying. Greeted more people. Then I drew level with a man who had known me since I was a child.
It was the husband of a dear family friend. He came close to me and handed me his handkerchief. It was an old fashioned often washed, cotton check handkerchief. Still crying I made my way through and sat next to my sister.
I had joked often that anyone who couldn’t delivery a eulogy without crying, should decline. It was the mark of a proper grown up, I thought, to be able to get through a funeral without weeping. It came time to speak. My sister and brother and I stood. The triumvirate united. I stood behind them, silent but still crying. Both of them, gained enough composure to speak. I squeezed my sister’s hand when she faltered. Then when I spoke, last, I stopped crying. For the duration of my speech, I was dry eyed.
When I sat down again, I started crying. I didn’t stop until long after the wake was over. After the after wake drinks were over and after I got home and crawled into bed to give mum a hug. Then I stopped. My ocean of tears ceased. While I have cried since, it was never the same as that day. If we truly do have a quota of tears, and of heartbeats for that matter, I may have used a good proportion of my allocation that day. I still have Stewart’s handkerchief.