Where do you cry? Is it comfortable for you to cry in public? Not for me… Do you cry easily? Yes, I do. In Tagalog, we call it ‘Mababaw ang luha.’ Literal translation: Shallow tears. Tears that easily overflow. That’s me. I cry when I see people cry. I cry when I watch drama or sad story.
I used to think I am ‘mababaw luha’ coz I’m weak… full of self-pity. So I learned to be strong. I held back my tears. At one point in my life, I experienced depression so deep I could not even cry. It was horrible. I realised tears are a blessing. It is good to cry it out. This I learn each time i feel hurt, each time I feel sad. Having a big hard cry gives me a form of release. One time hubby and i had a fight, I went to see Phantom of the Opera in the movie theatre. I cried through the movie – as I immersed myself in its story. I went home feeling much better.
Lately, I have been crying on and off. My parents passed away within 5 months of each other. When my mom died, I did not have much time to cry. I was too anxious for my father. He was 92. He was almost totally blind. He had not much appetite. As I did not know how to deal with my grief, I had a hard time trying to comfort him. I prayed with him. In my prayers, only once did I mention thanking God for mama who’s in heaven – no pain, no tear and no sickness. I thought how happy for mom, but how hard for dad. At times, it grieved me all the more when I opened my eyes, I see tears hovering around his eyes. I thought: my prayers made him cry… (I should know better…I just wanted him not to be sad. How foolish of me.) I tried talking with him about the past, about small details of his life and ours – times of his younger days. In our talk, I could not speak much of my mom – about their times together. I didn’t know what to say … would these memories comfort papa? And so I grieve in silence with him. I cried but silently. I let my tears flow and was glad that he could not see them.
On the last day that I visited papa at home, I sat in mama’s favourite chair and cried like a baby. I cried: mama… papa… I don’t remember what else I said, but I cried and cried – not too loudly coz the nurse was in the next room with papa. Papa was asleep. He just said his last word to me… ‘Mama…’ without finishing the sentence. And so I ‘finished’ my crying.
I remember I cried ‘Mama… mama…’ by her coffin on the day of the funeral. I didn’t care that my cries were loud and long. But again, I had to ‘stop’ crying. Time to leave her side. Cremation about to start.
On the morning of October 9, 2016, I stood with my daughter, Hannah, by the side of papa’s body… as the mortician combed his hair and brushed his coat. I touched his cold hands and I cried.. ‘papa.. papa..’ I had to hold back my crying. Time for him to be transferred to the coffin.
October 12, 2016… one last look of papa by his side… ‘Papa… papa…’ my whole body shaking, tears falling down my face.. what anguish, what pain, what grief… crying on and on… how long was it? It cannot be too long… time to stop… turn off the tears… time to close the coffin…
This morning, I reviewed the eulogy I wrote for papa. Tears flowed again. Hubby woke and heard my sniffles. Are you crying? He asked. I gave a muffled answer. Tears fell down my face. I wiped them away. Tears returned as I write this piece. No hand to wipe… tears dried on my face..
Where do i cry? I cry everywhere, in solitude, in the crowd. I cry alone. I cry with friends. Even as I held back my tears when speaking of my sadness, I let the tears flow when writing about my grief. Is there a rule? I think not. Jesus wept. (John 11:35) This is the shortest verse recorded in the Bible. It is the single act of Jesus recorded with two words in one verse. Where did Jesus cry? He cried in public with Mary. Jesus grieved with Mary for the loss of her brother and his friend, Lazarus. Jesus taught his disciples to pray in solitude even as He taught them the Lord’s prayer in public. Jesus wept in solitude in the garden of Gethsemane. He wept in the crowd alongside Mary.
And so my journey with tears will continue… until when… I do not know. Perhaps until my last breath.. Until I go to the place where God will wipe every tear from my eyes. “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)