Thursday, May 22, 2008

On crying

If you think about it, it's the second thing anyone does on this earth. You come out of the chute, a dude in a mask slaps you on the ass, you take a breath and expel it by...crying.

As you make your way in the world, you find that crying is your first line of defense, the primary way to make yourself understood in world that uses language, when you don't. You cry when you're uncomfortable, wet, hungry, thirsty, binky-less, not sitting next to your favorite aunt at dinner. You learn that to cry is to get what you want, magically and damn near instantly.

But as you gain language skills, you're smacked with the unrealistic expectation of using them, and keeping the crying (and its only slightly more sophisticated cousin, grunting and pointing) to a minimum. Curiously, girls, who gain the dubious gift of language earlier than boys (girls: 2.1 years on average; boys: 34.3 years) are immune from the prohibition against crying to get what you want. Especially when what that girl wants is space, jewelry, the TV, or you're such a bastard for not knowing without me having to tell you that I can't even believe I'm still with you, you insensitive prick.

But since I'm a dude, I don't really have the luxury of crying when things don't go my way. Which does not mean to say that I haven't cried as an adult; when Ray Bourque finally won the Stanley Cup the tears flowed like champagne from one of those cheesy champagne glass fountains you see at goyishe weddings. But those are tears of happiness anyways - that's a whole different thing. Like every other male American boy, I was taught that crying when one was hurting physically or emotionally was a sign of weakness. Which gives rise to the following interesting dichotomy: hit your own hand with a hammer and you'll yelp in pain but take it stoically thereafter. Hit a woman on the hand with a hammer and do 18 months in the clink and when you get out, her brothers will beat you to within an inch of your life. But I digress. Bottom line: guys don't cry when they hurt. We just don't.

But let me tell you, when your father dies, all bets are off. Since dad passed about three weeks ago, there have been times even still when some spark of rememberance, a television show's offhand reference to fatherhood or death, a phrase that my father used (or overused)- anything like that is trigger enough to start me crying. Really crying; not sitting in silent remembrance as a tear falls in manly fashion down my cheek. I'm talking the trembly chin, the scrunched-up face, the whole bit. And that is most assuredly something I'm not used to.

The funny thing is, it's not like it helps. Women will from time to time extol the virtues of a good cry, as if it removed toxins or bad vapors or anything but salt and water. But there's nothing that feels particularly cathartic about me crying for the loss of my father. It's just one more suck in the overflowing cornucopia of giant suck that was my dad's death.

I don't know how long this sort of thing takes to die down, but part of me kind of expected it to have done so already. And a great big part of me wants it to. And not just the crying, but the hurt - the pain and the sorrow that comes from losing your dad that leads to the crying. That's really what I want to stop.

Whoop - here I go again.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A poignant moment

As I write this, Jon Lester has thrown a no-hitter for the Boston Red Sox and the crowd at Fenway has yet to disperse, and the only thing I could think of was, that Dad and I will have something meaty to discuss Wednesday.

Except of course that conversation isn't ever going to take place, not ever.

God, I miss my Dad.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Cyril Robert Jacobs, 1933-2008

This past May 5th, my father passed away.

Even though he'd been in delicate health for years, and on an intellectual level I'd come to understand that we wouldn't have him for a whole lot longer, when the end came it was nonetheless surprising, shocking, and incredibly painful.

The week he died was dizzying, exhausting, poignant, frustrating, neverending, and now, thankfully, over. To see my dad committed to the earth from whence my people believe he came - to be asked to take a shovelful of that earth and cover my dad's coffin with it - was almost too much to bear.

I'm not the first person to lose a parent. I know that it is nature's way, if she is kind, that one loses one's parents.

But even though I'm fast approaching 40, I find myself a little bit lost without my father. He'd long since stopped providing anything to me aside from his love and unconditional support, but I still have moments when I ask myself just what the hell I'm going to do without his steadying presence in my life. With no disrespect to my mother, who raised us well and in a house full of love and happiness, it was my dad who taught me the big life lessons - what it really means to be a man, how one should act even when no-one is looking, that kind of thing. He very much made me the man I am and now he is gone, irrevocably and permanently.

And, eleven days after the fact, there are still days where it all seems a little too much to bear. Everyone I hear from who's lost a parent says the same exact thing: You never stop missing them, ever ever ever. The pain might lessen but it just never goes completely away. And that seems awfully big to me - maybe a little too big right now.

My mother, my brothers, and I will all eventually normalize. I am aware of the amazing healing power of Father Time. I wish life had a fast-forward button, but as it is we're all just going to have to drag our asses through each day until memory brings a smile instead of a lump in one's throat and a tear to one's eye.

Thanks for listening. Do me a favor: if you still have your parents, give them a big hug when you see them.