I don’t cry very often. Even as a little girl, I didn’t turn on the tears in order to get my way. That’s partly because I was basically a happy child, who didn’t want for much. But also because tears weren’t well tolerated in my house- the usual response to whiny tears was being told to "stop crying or I’d get something to cry about."
So, not many tears.
I used to have hormonal crying jags every month, and when I was in the peri-menopausal stage I cried a lot, and not just a-few-tears-running-my-cheek kind of crying. I remember coming home from the dress rehearsal for a final school concert in 1997, locking myself in the bathroom and sobbing until my eyes were swollen shut because I was going to miss that class of graduating seniors so much. (Of course, I realize those tears were just a precursor to all the tears I anticipated for the following school year, which was to be my son’s senior year in high school.)
I also recall a episode a few years later, driving down Six Mile Road in my son’s old 1993 Grand Prix, just before we shipped it off to his home in Florida, and sobbing until I could barely see the road. I was stopped at a red light and a man in the car looked over at me with such compassion on his face, I’ve never forgotten it. “I’m so sorry,” he mouthed, as the light turned green.
But tears like that don’t come very often anymore. The closest I’ve come to a full on sobfest like that was when my plane left the Ft. Myers airport after my dad’s burial. I felt so bereft that day, knowing I was leaving him behind forever.
When I do cry now, the tears usually catch me completely by surprise. The other night we watched a movie called McFarland, one of those feel good sports movies where a team of underdogs surmount all odds and become winners. At the end, my eyes filled unexpectedly with tears, enough of them that they spilled down my cheeks. Those tears led to others the next morning: the unexpected news of the death of a friends beloved dog; a slide show set to music of my son and daughter-in-law’s trip to Thailand; and finally Caroline Herring's music video of “Lay My Burden Down,” with beautiful old photographs and paintings.
Tears, tears, and more tears. All day long.
I shared that music video on Facebook, and made some comment about how weepy I’d been all day. One friend replied that “tears are a sign that your heart is alive. So weep on...”
There is so much truth in that. I feel like my heart has been coming alive with the spring, shedding the negativity and depression of winter in favor of vibrant energy and growth. It’s believed that crying can release stress related toxins that may lead to hypertension and heart disease. Maybe the tears this week were my body’s way of wringing the last bit of sadness out my winter-weary spirit.
I hope that’s true. I haven’t cried again since that day, and even though the weather is not altogether summery, it’s such a far cry from that brutal winter that I’m definitely not complaining. I’ve spent the past couple of days digging holes in the dirt, planting over 50 impatiens, petunias, and dianthus along the garden border beside the house. It felt so good to be outside, to see the bright pink of those flowers shining like pretty pink beacons amongst the heavy shade surrounding the house.
"Sometimes God allows us to cry, for tears clear our eyes so we may clearly see all the good things there are ahead.” Today I’m drying my tears and hoping to see good things this summer.