That may seem an unusual statement to a lot of you because I'm kind of a sap, but it's true. I don't cry very often. Sure, I feel like crying a lot; I often get that lump in my throat that begs to be soothed by giant puddles forming in my eyes, but I rarely allow it to come to fruition. Seriously, I get that feeling over the smallest things. A sappy commercial, phone calls from friends and family, books, special emails, seeing happy children in parks, and standing ovations at the end of performances. But, I've always found a way to keep it inside.
I was always the peacemaker in my family. Always the one that tried to patch things up when they weren't going smoothly, or when people fought. That's not to say that I never started anything (my siblings would attest to that!), but overall, since I was a young girl, being the rock was where I felt I belonged.
Because of that, I have often kept my feelings to myself, hid my emotion during tough times and instead helped others through their pain. And, it seems, that because of my "need to be strong for every one else", I have isolated myself and find myself alone.
I cry alone.
Last week, a North Carolina man by the name of Dick Carson died. He had a malignant tumor that was found too late. A member of the Elon church where my mother works (and where my family attends service on the regular), my family knew Mr. Carson well. During my father's last chemotherapy treatment, he sat next to Mr. Carson, both receiving a slow medicated cocktail to cure their deadly disease. Today, my father went in for his last chemo treatment of 2009, Dick Carson, of course, was not there.
I spoke to my mother this week on the phone, she said: "Your father was pretty upset at the funeral home today. I guess it's hard to have someone sit next to you during your chemo, and be dead by your next treatment." I agreed, holding back that lump that started to rise in my throat.
This past weekend, my brother and his girlfriend, Tara, came to visit. Coincidentally, his girlfriend's mother lives across the street from me here in New York, so the four of us spent a lot of time together. Tara lost her father to leukemia when she was a little girl. Friday night, I sat in the living room across the street and talked with her mother, and she spoke casually about losing her husband. "He got really sick really fast," she said, "and it was good that he was able to come home for a few days before he died, spend some time with the children, and get his affairs in order." And casually continued, "You're lucky that your dad has felt well enough to do the same."
It stung. Bad. I think I've always understood that this disease will ultimately take my father. But, never have I heard it said in such a casual way. And not once since he was diagnosed have I really considered that my father could take a turn for the worse at any day. I need to bring myself to accept the reality of the situation, but it's been so much easier to hide behind the "silver lining". I seem to be doing that a lot as of late.
I guess the culmination of things people have said over the past few days just hit me at once. And I let myself cry.