Tears are a healing thing, they flow from us and release the pain we feel. Yet we can cry for so many reasons. I can often cry with happiness, and not only women do it, I also see men crying at football matches.
Motherhood caught me unawares. I had been ill, was suddenly in a fever hospital for eight weeks. We had only been married a few months. My 20th birthday came and went and I was still in hospital, I had time to think. When I came back to my husband, I remember thinking, Who knows what will happen next? Is this how life is? I took stock. We were in New Zealand our family was back in England. My thoughts skimmed an unknown future. It was then I made the positive decision to try to have a baby.
Kerry, our beautiful daughter, arrived close to a year after, an easy labour, first niggle till last push was 8 hours. I was scared but not in a lot of pain, I sat up and held her hand as she entered the world. She was then bathed in tears as I cried all over her. I will never forget the triumph and the emotion of that moment. My tears were her baptising.
Of course I cried sometimes when I got things wrong, I was a totally inexperienced mother. My handling of babies and knowledge was pretty average! Yet I fed Kerry for six months then she easily went from that to drinking from a cup and eating solids in a month or so. She crawled at five months, so I must have done some things right.
Tears often help us when we are frustrated. How many stupid arguments end in tears?
The saddest thing I heard was from a man who lived next to us. He was crying, his wife bullied him, they fought all the time, she was big and angry he was meek. It was the most humiliating thing. I felt so sorry for him, but did not know what I could do. I moved away, and heard they parted. I’ve always hoped he found happiness.
A sweet surprise can make us cry. The sort of thing you get when least expecting it, a flower, a compliment, a hug, the timing is all important. The tears can surprise us. They are happy tears.
It is hard not to cry at a funeral, and I struggled in the exceptional circumstances of my father’s death. He had been ill, and was in hospital because he had some walking difficulties, no specific illness had been diagnosed. We all suspected cancer of the bladder or perhaps spine. I was told he was comfortable, and I was anxious as we’d arranged to fly to Australia in March 1986 on holiday. I talked to the doctor, he said he did not expect my father would walk again but he was stable.
“Go to see your brother,” Dad said when I spoke with him.
We flew out, arrived and went to Lakes Entrance, Victoria. The call came at 6am the first day, Dad had died.
The journey home was delayed for all sorts of reasons, one being a pilot strike. Due to problems we travelled for 56 hours to get back.
I told Mum I could do the eulogy, but as I was so sleep deprived I was like a zombie. I did it and said all the things I wanted about my precious dad, but the tears overtook just as I finished. I did hold it together, almost; for Dad, for a man who deserved such love, and such tears.
We once went to a wedding, a big family we knew slightly. It was a full church; beautiful young bride and the perfect day. Yet the sound I remember was the bride’s father weeping loudly all through the service and later at the reception. I felt there was a story I never knew, a mystery not solved. But it was a sound of pure misery. I never found out what happened to them all. And I still wonder what the story was.
Crying over animals, now that is the hardest to bear. My husband and I have both cried more over two dogs than we have any human. We both cried so much over a Jack Russell who died at only six, we had to stop mentioning her name. Only now can I talk of her and remember the good bits. Cats too, I cried so much for a stray I found, it came in my kitchen to die. I rushed it to the vet, and have never cried so much for an animal that wasn’t even mine. There have been a lot of little furry bundles, lots of trips with no return. It never gets easier.
Crying can be a release, it can be a rage, or just a reaction to the cruelty of life. Tears can also be for joy, for elation or just the overwhelming experience of being alive, or seeing a new baby, a happy face, and knowing life is worth it after all. So cry if you must, and I will always understand.