This story was published in 2001 and is found in the book Southside Glimmers.
Don’t you just love that lump-in-your-throat-happy-feeling?
I believe in tears. Oh, the wonder of tears! They can be healing — as well as revealing.
I especially prefer the lump-in-my-throat kind of tears—the “warm, fuzzy feeling” kind of tears, the “ain’t life grand!” kind of tears.
While I prefer to do my “woe is me” crying in private, I don’t begrudge others who’d rather cry with someone. And, while there are days when I relish a good cry, I can’t really have a good one when other people are watching.
Oh sure, I can rejoice with those who rejoice. I can weep with those who weep. I can become teary over surprising things — and I can become choked up at the thought of other things.
Sometimes someone else’s tears make me stronger — and other times just watching another person’s pain causes my own tears to flow.
Yet when it comes to crying, I can only empty my soul when I am allowed to weep and wail, alone. It doesn’t mean I am embarrassed or ashamed. It just means that I need to be alone in order to work whatever is stressing me out of my system.
There are other things, however, which make me cry. Those are the type of things that cause my kids to watch me closely.
“Are you crying, Mama?” they’ll ask, surprise in their voices.
Some days they will mention that they noticed someone crying in church.
“Why were they crying?” they’ll ask, not because they’re being nosey, but because they really want to know.
They are intrigued by the idea that women can cry as readily from joy as from sorrow. They’re fascinated that women cry because something is touching. It’s captivating to them because it’s so opposite of how they themselves might respond.
They either find enjoyment or are intrigued by their mom being sentimental. That’s why I need to be alone to cry.
I don’t want to stop my tears to answer their questions. I hate to be bothered when I’m crying.
Having someone interrupt me when I’m shedding tears is as bad as being awakened in the middle of a dream.
I like to complete my dreams, and I like to finish my tears!
I can’t storm the gates of Heaven when others are listening. I can’t pour out my emotions with intensity when others are watching.
I’m not a mushy sentimentalist—in public. Yet there are things which cause a catch in my throat — especially when I allow myself to stop and see the whole picture.
That catch in my throat can happen each morning when the school buses stop at the end of our driveway. Each morning, those red lights begin flashing — and instantly, all traffic stops, waiting. It’s the same at the end of the day. Some folks are on their way home from work; some of them probably have another meeting to attend and don’t have a lot of extra time.
Yet when those red lights begin flashing, the traffic stops. No one tries to inch around that stopped school bus. That’s because there’s a law. I prefer to think it’s also because they’re watching out for my youngsters.
My kids are pretty special to me, and I like to think the unknown travelers recognize that those children crossing the road to board that bus are pretty important to some mom or dad. How sad it would be to lose one of them because somebody wasn’t willing to wait those few minutes for somebody else’s kids to cross the road safely to the other side.
That’s why, when I see those flashing red lights, and I watch all traffic halt for my kids, I could just cry. Thanks, folks, for making the world a safer place for our kids. It’s worth the wait. Thanks for making me cry!
That catch-in-my-throat feeling hit me again a few months ago when I was riding in the back of the rescue squad, accompanying my stepfather for a non-emergency visit to the ER. The driver didn’t have his lights on, but when some folks saw us coming, they moved over to get out of the way.
Habit? Maybe. Law? Perhaps.
I like to think the folks there in my hometown recognized that someday, it might be their loved one who needed care. Someday, they might be riding in that ambulance.
Moving out of the way made the task easier for the driver. I’ve always moved over when I’ve seen an ambulance coming. I try to move over even before he’s right behind me. I figure it lets him know I’m supporting him in what he’s doing—and frankly, while I’m pulling over, I’m breathing a prayer for the passenger and his family.
Moving out of the way shows respect. It shows care.
When I see you pull over to make way for an emergency vehicle, and when I think about what pulling over really means, I could just cry. Thanks for making me cry.
Then there are the annual parades we visit each year. The best part of a parade, I think, is the band. Sure, the floats are ingenious, and the other extras are nice. Yet the only part of a parade that can give me that lump-in-my-throat feeling is the band.
I love watching the seriousness on the young faces, hearing the cascading music, and feeling the pulsing of the drums. I especially like watching the feet. Those feet are beautiful when they’re in time with the beat. The beauty which makes me want to cry is the fact that they’ve worked and trained and practiced at this, over and over again. On the day of the parade, any one of them could mar the picture.
Yet the picture is beautiful in its completeness because they march in step with each other and the music. Listen to the music. Feel the beat. Watch those feet. You’ll find there’s a lump in your throat, along with me.
On another day a few weeks ago I stood on the corner of North Main Street and watched the funeral procession of someone I didn’t know. That someone, however, was dear to other folks. As the funeral procession wound its way toward some cemetery somewhere, I felt that lump-in-my-throat feeling again.
When folks had the opportunity to do so, they moved their vehicles out of the way. Policemen stood underneath the stoplights and directed traffic. Everyone else waited while those in mourning were allowed to move together in procession. I watched Halifax County folks show respect and care, waiting until the procession had passed. I gladly confess that on that day, on that corner, I had a few tears in my eyes.
On any myriad of days, I find that lump in my throat when I “catch ’em doing good.” When a kid decides to help another without being told, when the chores are completed by the same one who did them the day before, when another kid offers to help with a school project, . . well, these are things that make me want to cry.
When my teenager sets the table without being asked, when the kids surprise me by straightening the house while I’m in town, or when the love of my life surprises me with a gift “just because,” I find myself basking in the wonder of pleasant surprises and undeserved grace.
And, as far as I’m concerned, I don’t mind if that lump-in-my-throat and catch-in-my-voice never go away.
So for all the folks out here who have
→waited patiently behind a yellow school bus,
→made way for an emergency vehicle,
→marched in rhythm to the beat,
→moved aside for mourners,
→lent a helping hand, or
→given love “just because,”
thanks for making me cry.
Thanks for all the times you’ve caused a lump-in-my-throat and catch-in-my-voice, giving me a good reason to cry!