“Still, there’s a lucidity that sometimes comes in that moment when you find yourself looking at the world through your tears, as if those tears served as a lens to clarify what it is you’re looking at” (Into the Forest. Jean Hegland).
Tears of Lucidity
I hate crying. Puffy, red, swollen eyes soiled with thick, black smudges of mascara turning your tears black which then stream down your entire face, past the runny, sniffling nose, around the down-turned mouth open ever so slightly letting out meek sobs broken by large gasps in a pathetic attempt to maintain a breathing pattern. Whether it’s a light, masked cry or an obnoxious wail releasing all tension and angst, there’s never enough make up to hide the bulging under-eye bags post-breakdown and you will never get back that time you spent catching your breath or getting rid of the hiccups you were so fortunate to catch from the hour you wasted blubbering and the old “there’s something in my eye” trick fails almost every time.
However, underneath all that runny make up, behind those chest raising bawls, and despite the fact that your nose hasn’t stopped running for over three hours, those tears brought to your eyes, for whatever the reason may be, give you a chance to see clearly. Like a set of fresh contacts or a new, expensive pair of glasses, those tears enable a sense of clarity as to what is going on in front of those tired eyes.
Four years crying over him. Young and naïve. Too young to completely understand the meaning of that four letter word, but still mature enough to attempt to embrace it. What was the difference between reality and artificiality? Blinded by my tears, tears that hindered my vision to the point where it seemed easier to simply shut my eyes and open them to find out that everything would be over, that it would all be gone¾the tears, the hurt, the him, everything would disappear and I’d be left in a tranquil fog believing the worst was over. Behind my tears laid guilt, pain, anger, excuses and hateful words, all of which never came to the surface. I shouldn’t have provoked this. How can he make me feel this way? Why do I let him make me feel this way? It’s because he loves me. I hate him, I wish he never existed.
Tortured eyes bring clarity. The final tear hung from my eyelash like a drop of dew and, through its translucence, it created a clear image in front of me. That person who stood before me with those accusing, hateful eyes meant nothing to me. I cried my eyes dry over him and for what? Soaked shirts, ounces of cover-up, piles of tissues and dozens of excuses as to the condition of my reddened, puffy face? It was no longer worth it and I was brought to this revelation. It took 50 gallons of tears to come to that one little saline drop that brought clarity to what I looked upon: a lonely, stupid, little boy.
I’m sorry that I didn’t get to spend more time with him. I’m sorry that I can barely remember the song he used to sing to my sisters and me while we piled onto his delicate, feeble legs as he bumped them up and down taking us on a ride. I’m sorry that I didn’t know more about him. What was his favorite color? Favorite food? I’m sorry that I said “no” all those times my mother asked me to take a ride with her to my aunt’s to see my grandparents before they left to go back to their home in South Carolina. I’m sorry that I didn’t know his health was that bad. I’m sorry that, for a reason mysterious to me, I couldn’t cry when I heard the news. I’m sorry that at the funeral I watched my mother, sisters, grandmother, aunts and uncles all tear up and some even sob while I was depleted of all emotion. I’m sorry that I was unable to let out even a single tear until weeks later when it hit me all at once in a wave of unbearable anguish. I’m not sorry that I think about him every day and that through the occasional watery-eyed recollection of him I know he loved me, I know he loved all of us and I know he still does from where he rests now.
From where he rests every day, after a long laborious day of work, I think he still hears the arguing. I think my father’s loud, rumbling snores are an attempt to drown out the harsh, contemptuous words exchanged between mother and daughter. Neither party wants to admit they’re wrong so the fighting continues. Despite the reality that I’m dead wrong, I will never give in. If I give in, then she wins. Storming away to my room only increases her rage. Usually she follows me until she gets out every last word she has to say or until I admit I’m wrong.
That’s usually what happens, but this time was different, she was hurt. I walked up the front porch steps and before even opening the door, found a note under a magnet on our large, sullen front door. I sighed and looked down at the Tartufo in my hand, her favorite dessert from the pizzeria I work at. I grabbed the note in my free hand and stepped inside to find her slouched on her recliner right next to the door; she didn’t even look up. Throwing the Tartufo down on her lap, I freed my hand to tear the note. Her attempt to snap back at her insolent daughter came out as a weak, muffled, “I would have liked you to have read the note.”
This wouldn’t have happened had I approached her with the respect a mother deserves from her daughter. The daughter she carried for nine months. The daughter whose diapers she changed, whose stomach she kept full, whom she kept clothed and housed for nearly 22 years. Then in between my stifled sobs I hear a noise, a noise similar to the one I was making just a moment ago. Through the paper-thin wall separating my bedroom from my parents, I hear a child crying. No, not a child, a mother. It takes me a moment to suck back my tears, swallow my pride and step into my mother’s room and apologize. She needs me just as I need her this exact moment.
I let myself be vulnerable, just long enough to lie down next to my mother and cry it all out. Through those tears of revelation I saw myself lying there next to the woman who raised me, the woman who gave me half of her chromosomes of which I got the emotional, passionate genes that duplicate hers. As our suffocating grips loosened, I wandered to the bathroom in our house, to the mirror that hangs above our ancient sink where I noticed a single tear that remained on my cheek left from another mother-daughter crying session. My eyes fell to my mother’s vintage sign beneath the mirror: “Mirror Mirror on the wall, I am my mother after all.” The tear fell.