I can remember each and every time I’ve ever seen my husband cry. It’s something you remember when a man cries. It’s something that stays with you forever. The first time he cried in front of me was our wedding day. I was surprised at first, taken aback by such a moving experience. I suppose all women would want such an expression of love on their wedding day, and somehow I had gotten it, even if it did take me by surprise. The second time I saw my husband openly cry was some twelve years later, the day of his dad’s funeral. My brother had told me that he had broken down on the phone with him, but the actual witnessing by me was this day. Despite the fact that his mother had died six months prior, it was his dad’s funeral that caused him to break down in my arms in front of the casket at the end. We were the only ones left in the room, as everyone else had already filed out. The death of both of them so close together was more than he could bear and it all came out in buckets, his faucet fully open. The third time was a few years ago, he was sitting on the foot of our bed, having just packed because I told him to get out. This cry was different, an almost defeated cry, a cry for help, and I made him leave anyway. He returned the next day.
The last time was Sunday.
Our aunt is currently in a rehabilitation hospital. It’s sad really. She has lost her appetite. She is only drinking small amounts. She wants to go. But, then they brought in a roommate. She is a slight woman who had recently had a stroke and was being moved from another part of the hospital. Her speech is slurred and her movements are shaky. When dinner time came and they brought in both food trays, there was nobody there to help her. The staff simply put down the tray, uncovered the food and walked away. I jumped up to help her, thinking to myself that if I wasn’t there there would have been nobody to help her. Sometime after that it took all of my composure to not outright cry big, loud sobs. And then, later in the hospital hallway, the nurse telling us this and that and us saying we didn’t want our aunt to suffer, the tears started flowing again, big flowing tears.
Later, as we drove to get something to eat and head home, in a restaurant parking lot, his faucet opened wide again. He started by using an analogy. A few years back, a promising college basketball player lay on the court floor in a Final Four game with a knee injury, his coach leaning over him making direct eye contact, and in that moment it all played out in that player’s head, the magnitude of everything happening, his team, the injury, the Final Four, his career, his future and his tears too flowed freely. He said he felt like in that moment my tears were a culmination of the past five years unable to be dammed up any longer, the betrayal, the kids, love, hate, her, us….all of it.
In a parking lot in a car, all of it flowed free and we held each other and cried.
Healing is such a strange process. Sometimes you won’t even know it’s going to happen or how. It sneaks up on you, covering your wounds when you think they will always be open and gaping. It’s so much like grief in how it sneaks up on you, opening wounds that never existed before.