Don't be mad, if I cry. It just hurts so bad, sometimes.'Cause everyday it's sinking in. And I have to say goodbye all over again.- Lyrics from Save a Place for Me, by Matthew West
“Of all the expressions of human emotion… weeping may be the most functional, the most deeply versatile. The tears we weep show us our deepest, neediest, most private selves. Our tears expose us. They lay us bare both to others and to ourselves. What we cry about is what we care about.” - There Is a Season, by Joan Chittister
Tears are very interesting. When I was young I would cry at the important things: at certain movies (Rudolph, the Red-Nose Reindeer, Lassie, The Black Stallion – funny thing, I’m not even a huge animal lover), when a boyfriend would break-up with me, or when I couldn’t get my way. Okay, I thought they were important at the time.Other than that, I rarely cried.
Then, I had kids… and sometime during child birth a tear faucet was turned on. Most movies would cause a tear to fall. A song would come on the radio and tears would fall. I would hear something on the news and tears would fall. I never gave it much thought – just figured they were tears.
Then Austin died…. I never knew my body could produce and hold so many tears! The dam just opened up!
NAME THAT TEAR:
The interesting thing about these new-found tears is that they are different, day-to-day and moment-to-moment. I figured, since there are so many types of tears, they should have names. Here are a few:
The Sneaky Tears: These tears are quiet. I don’t even know they’re there until I feel them sliding down my cheek. They may show up when I have a thought that's a little sad, but nothing heart-wrenching. Or they appear when I hear a song and am humming along. Sometimes they slide out when I'm thinking of Austin. Usually, I'm feeling rather mellow when they sneak out.
The Large Rain Drop Tears: These tears aren’t quite like the Sneaky Tears. They do come a little unexpected, but they are HUGE! I never knew tears could be so big. They appear when I’m writing someone a letter or email, and usually thinking of Austin. They appear while I’m sitting in church listening to a song or the message. When these tears fall they “plop” as they hit my cheek, shirt, or paper I'm writing on! Sometimes they mix in with the sneaky tears. And they stop just as quickly as they came. I actually find these very interesting.
The Sorrow Tears: These tears just flow. They come when I am sad about or missing Austin. I know they’re coming and I just let them flow. They are usually fairly quick and when they are gone I feel better, as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I am usually more mellow and calm. They are cleansing and healing.
“Oh-Man” Tears: These tears have some sadness to them. They make their presence known when I’m talking about Austin with a friend or someone tells me they are sorry about my son. They show up when I am making a phone call about Austin’s affairs and have to explain that I am calling about my son, who passed-away a couple months ago. When they arrive I think, “Oh man, not again… I thought I left you at home!” These tears can sometimes be stopped by taking a few deep breaths and talking with a slightly tightened voice, which stops the tears and holds them in, allowing me to make it through the conversation, and then change topic before they slip out again. Other times they’re a little stronger than me and escape out. But as soon as I change the subject they’re gone.
The Gut-Wrenching Tears: These tears are the hurting tears. They come when my heart is breaking and I am missing Austin more than words can say. They are the ones that feel like a dam has been opened and the tears just flow and flow. When they are over, I am exhausted.
The tears named above are the most recognizable ones. I’m sure there are others I just haven’t met yet. But at this point, these are all I need. And now that I’m on a first-name basis I know how to handle them and what to expect from them.
Over the past 12 weeks. I have become very comfortable with my tears. I don’t always know when they will show up, but I know they will. It’s funny, to watch people, especially strangers or mere acquaintances, become very uncomfortable with my tears. I simply laugh and tell them, “This is just part of my every day life right now…”, then I change the subject and the tears usually stop. As for my friends and family, I have informed them that the only thing I guarantee is that my tears will appear, often unannounced. If they don’t like it, then they better stay away from me for quite a while, because there is nothing I can do about it. They are what they are.
Looking back through my journal entries I see there have definitely been times of tears. Here are some of them:
EXCERPTS from my Journal:
As these thoughts came through my mind I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing.
A short time later the entertainment at the Tavern (just a single performer, playing the guitar) started singing. Although the songs’ words didn’t have anything to do with Austin, just the tone and mood made the tears keep flowing. The poor waitress didn’t know what was going on. She couldn’t even look at me. It’s amazing at what will turn the spout on and start the tears flowing.
The tears keep falling. I’ll think I’m ok, then, all of a sudden a huge tear will fall from my eyes.
It’s been a while since I entered anything, yet much has been going on. The last entry I was feeling much better, and then Thurs/Fri – BAM! I plummeted. On Friday I couldn’t stop crying. My heart was just breaking and I was missing Austin so very, very much. By 8pm I was thoroughly exhausted and became very short with the boys. I was in bed by 9pm (which is unusual for me) – I was so wiped out, almost achy (but wasn’t sick).
So, here I am… I know this is normal grieving and that I can’t rush it. But sometimes I just wish the sadness that is underlying everything I do would be gone. The tears just come… I know people look at me and wonder how we do it. And I don’t know how. I just have to get up every day and do. When I’m around others I am usually much better. But the second I’m alone, the tears flow and the heart aches…
TEARS ARE A GIFT:
As I look back over these past 12 weeks I can’t believe how much I have healed. And the tears have been part of that process. I still miss Austin, in ways I can’t even explain. I still shed tears, daily, but not every waking moment, at every thought, and every silent second. When the tears come and then dry I am thankful, for I can feel the healing process continuing.
Tears are part of our body’s way of healing. We should not be ashamed of them, but accept them as a gift. Your body knows what it needs, listen to it! And since, most likely, our tears are going to show-up, we might as well get to know them and name them. (Hmmm…This makes me think of all the nicknames Austin, himself, had: Dini, Smausty, Texas, Stin, Auski,Smauski, Halfstin, Austindini…)
So go ahead, accept the gift, have some fun and name that tear!
“I used to wonder if there would ever come a day when I would stop weeping for my dead child….Gradually I came to realize that the shedding of tears was part of my healing, like a cool salve on a wound. My tears are my gift to myself, a way of physically acknowledging the love I have for my child…Tears have an almost spiritual healing power, an expression of deep love for the ones for whom we weep… The tears will dry up in their own good time, but until that time, our tears help to heal us and should be welcome in our lives and not something to dread.” – excerpt from A Season of Grief, by Ann Dawson
“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” – Washington Irving