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Crying with love:
the third time I finally cried
The first time
I had been having a very rough time and was telling the checkout woman at Trader Joe’s about it. I found myself filled with emotions. She had asked me, as checkers do, how I was doing.
I asked, “Do you want the truth?”
Meo looked me in the eye as she was scanning the frozen meat balls and said lovingly, “I scan food all day…I’ll take some truth.” I confessed to her, a stranger to me at this point, about Jane’s virus and how the family system had been shattered, how I was a mess, how I didn’t know how much longer I could take it, how it felt like a nightmare, but I was getting through it.
Unbeknownst to me while I was sharing, Meo had caught the eye of a co-worker who brought over a bouquet of flowers. She handed them to me and she said “These are from all of us at Trader Joe’s with hopes that your life gets a little easier.” I almost burst out crying at that moment. Instead I just squeaked out in a small voice, “I have to go right now.” And I left.
While putting the groceries into the trailer behind my bike, I wondered, why didn’t I just cry? It would have been so beautiful. I pondered the societal pressure that people, especially men, shouldn’t cry in public.
The second time
About two weeks later, I was sitting on an airplane in a middle seat, between two women and watching the movie Hidden Figures on a small screen in front of me. It’s a beautiful movie. I was so touched that I felt myself about to weep, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t let myself do it.
Again, I thought, this is strange. I wanted to cry but didn’t.
The third time
Two weeks after that, a Sunday on which we didn’t have plans, Emmett asked me in the morning to see Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and I agreed to take him. To be honest, I didn’t really want to go see it. But, when I told him I would take him to the 9:35 show, he lit up. He was so excited and asked, “Can I invite Ben?” “Of course you can invite Ben.” “Oh, Sam wants to see it, too.”
The four of us drove to The Clackamas Town Center. They were being boys. I wasn’t involved in their conversation. I was driving and realized that my son is growing up. He is finishing fourth grade, and I am now the driver. He doesn’t really need me to see the movie. He needs me to drive him. I’m the driver.
I asked the kid selling tickets if it was ok for me to not go in and instead sit in the lobby. The three kids ran in.
I sat there in the lobby of the theater. I started not to cry, but to weep.
I am not needed. My son is getting older. Life is happening so fast.
I wept and wept honestly.
I don’t know what it looked like to anyone passing by. Maybe they thought I got really bad news. Maybe they thought something else. I don’t know. I don’t know if anyone even really paid attention to me, 47 years old, weeping in the lobby.
I wondered, as I sat there, if there was a time when my own father sat outside of something weeping for the same reason: realizing that his son was growing up. Of course, if that had happened at the time, I would never have noticed because I was a boy and I had just run ahead.
We are human beings. We are filled with emotion. It is our birthright; it is part of who we are to have a full experience of this life and to cry in public when we need.