This week, one of my friends posted a quote on Facebook. Strangely, it was from Johnny Depp, who said, "People cry, not because they're weak. It's because they've been strong for too long."
This slapped me across the face and resonated so deeply in me that it echoed in my mind all day. So often, people see tears as weakness. A breaking of resolve. A surrender. But, in fact, tears are usually an eruption of an intense hurt. A volcano inside of us that's been building and rumbling for days or weeks or years. Until it can no longer be contained and uncontrollably releases things that have been building deep inside. That spill over the edges and can't be reclaimed.
Life is full of so much happiness. My daughter's kiss when I tell her goodnight. My son's "love you, Mom" as he hops out of the car in the morning at school. My puppy's unadulterated joy when I walk through the door after being gone for a half hour. My husband's gentle squeeze of my hand as we watch "Jeopardy." Sunrises. Sunsets. The smell of a freshly opened bag of coffee. The smell of my puppy's belly after she's been sleeping. A friend's hug. Chocolate chip cookies. A green light. Every day is full of happiness.
But sometimes, we get thrown into reverse by tragedy. It can be sudden or chronic. Life shattering or the slow darkness surrounding the end of something flickering out. The intensity of the pain and sadness induced by the juxtaposition of the joys experienced in everyday can be paralyzing. Overwhelming. Which is when the tears come.
Tonight, I prepared myself for seeing my Mom next week. How I wish I could see her everyday. That she were closer. But she isn't. So next week, I board a plane back to Alabama to check on her and my Dad. I know what I'll find, but I don't know. She's fading. In the end stages of dementia, she hasn't recognized me for years. And that's okay. When I visit her, I care about her comfort and her dignity. I lost my Mommy over a decade ago, but my Mama's still alive. Buried deep inside the beauty who rests quietly in the nursing home.
I cried intensely tonight. Tears of remembrance. Tears of sorrow. Tears of fear. Tears of uncertainty. I couldn't control them or contain them. I found myself sobbing with a wrenching from deep inside. Not simply tears that I blotted, but ones that began in my belly. The base of my soul. That I felt in my entire body. But with each one, with each sob, the pain left. The pain I continually push down over my sweet Mama's disease found release. This reminded me that no matter how much we try to push it down, what hurts us will pop up. Like an inflatable we attempt to shove down in a pool.
So let the tears flow. Let the pain leave your heart through your eyes. Let your spirit release it. Because it won't be held captive and will find its own way out. Better you create the avenue than let it carve its way out destructively.