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.


  1. It WILL fade. I lost my brother to cancer, and it took about 3 months for it to stop hurting every day.

    The pain will fade to a point where you can function, and not feel like you want to curl up into a ball. Sooner than you think, you will be able to think of your Dad and be sad but not devastated.

    Good luck to you. I thought my life was over when my brother died, but 16 years later, I'm still kicking.

  2. First off, you need a good long break from daily life to let the feelings flow without distraction...a good long 1 or 2 weeks along a beach, or in the woods, or on a mountain (just not a cliff). Take some time to mope, and remember, and mourn, and do some soul-searching introspective thinking. And, hey, you are welcome to come up to our little mountain retreat and enjoy the hospitality of our sofa bed or various local lodging establishments, and get your wallowing on. You and Big Bro could mope together--it'd do you both some good.

    Secondly, when you cry, you do in fact release built-up hormone levels through the tear ducts. I learned this through a book written by Dr. Oz and Dr. Rosen--those Real Age, Oprah-loving docs. That doesn't mean that your very real grief is going to flow out those ducts along with those hormones...but you should feel a little better (very little whilst in the midst of grieving, but still) right after.

    So, let it flow, it'll probably flow you right into the next stage of grieving and eventually you'll come to acceptance and be able to fondly embrace all the great memories and moments you've collected through the years.

    big hugs, man.


  3. Be glad for the time you were given together. I lost my dad when I was 13 years old. A lot of people lose their's even younger. When it starts to hurt, thank the heavens that your father got to live to see you become a grown man, and be there for you to teach you all you needed to know.

  4. well I got to read it and did some crying as well. Oh how it hurts. Lets hope the pain goes away and only good memories ya,me

  5. I hope the pain fades sooner rather than later, but as someone already mentioned, it will fade. Time really does do that. And in it's place I hope all the great memories of your time with your father will surface and add some comfort to your life. Love you, my friend.

    "Stuck in the Middle with You"