Scarlett’s Letter July 31, 2103

I went to a funeral today. Yes, I set foot in a church. The lady who has lived across the street from my parents’ house for the past thirty years finally succumbed to cancer. She was fighting breast cancer when she and her family moved in all those years ago. She has been cancer free for some time, but sadly, was struck again. In spite of diligent care, good treatment and the best that modern medicine can provide, she lost the battle.

She was a very good neighbor and looked out for my parents every day. After my father passed, she and her husband watched out for my mom, especially in my absence, on a daily basis. They stop by daily, bring treats to her from restaurants and from the store, share the daily newspaper with her and call to check in with her if they don’t see her out and about. They are good people and she will be missed.

I’m a bit of a sap. I cry. I cry very easily. I cry when I watch movies, even movies that aren’t supposed to be sad. I cry when people talk about movies that made them cry. I cry when I read books. Or hear sad or poignant songs. I cry when people are diagnosed with a catastrophic illness. I cry when I’m happy. I cry when I’m mad. I cry when I’m frustrated. I am prone to crying for no good reason when I’m tired. And I cry at funerals. I once cried so hard at a funeral I totally out-cried the widow. It was embarrassing. I will tear up and cry if I observe someone else cry. I will even cry if I’m told that someone else cried. So, as you can imagine, funerals are really rough. I know they aren’t supposed to be like hopscotch in the park, but they are really hard. I know people are going to cry so I am usually choked up before it even begins. I don’t know how to make all of this stop.

This past weekend with the girls, when we spoke of movies, I realized just how many excellent movies I refuse to see because I know I’m going to cry. And I even teared up a time or two when the plots of movies were discussed. Ugh. How. To. Stop. How much do I miss because I don’t want to cry? I remember, once, with these same girls, watching “Terms of Endearment” in the theater. We all cried, we balled. At one point, one of the girls sobbed out loud, complete with a hitch in her breath, which we all found absurdly funny, so we started laughing, out loud, hysterically. We laughed until we cried. Everyone in the theater kept looking at us because we were laughing. And sobbing. Simultaneously, with stuffy noses. We sounded like a bunch of hogs eating slop. When the movie was over, we just sat in our seats and waited for everyone else to leave the theater, then we snuck out the back exit. Our eyes were red and puffy, our noses raw from blowing them. It was so embarrassing.

I’ve tried several tactics to keep from crying, none really successful. I’ve tried looking away, but if I hear someone cry, it’s all over. I’ve tried not paying attention, but that goes against my nature, I’m not good at not paying attention. I’ve tried thinking of something funny, but I probably look a little strange with a kooky grin and tears streaming down my face. I’ve tried just being really resolute, it works in so many other areas of my life. Not here. I’m just a sap.

So, I cried, today. But only a little. Just one stupid tear. My eyes were full of tears so I did the only thing I know might work; I make my eyes as big as possible to accommodate the tears. Like enlarging a reservoir to contain more water. But one stupid tear leaked out, and once one leaks out, its like the dam broke and suddenly there’s a river. But, today, only the one and I was able to fight the rest back. And I only cried that one tear because my mom was groping for Kleenex in her purse and dabbing at her eyes. And she was crying only because one of the daughters broke down and cried while reading the scripture. Afterwards, my mom told me how she cries so easily, at books, and songs, and movies, and when she sees or hears someone else cry. Curses! It’s genetic! I crave stoicism, and really, I am stoic in almost every respect, until that one tear falls.

There are two things that most people cry over that I don’t; spilt milk and physical pain. So, perhaps my defense against crying easily in every other situation is to spill milk all over the place and pinch myself really, really, hard. I’ll let you know how it goes.