As a little girl, I remember sitting on our back steps, sobbing about something.
“Dad,” my brother said, “can you die from crying?”
My father, perhaps fed up with my waterworks, answered,”I suppose you could.”
Instantly, I stopped crying.
But I can promise you a day or two later, I cried about something else.
Can you remember your cries? I can, lots of them.
A brother’s teasing. Anger at a parent’s restrictions. The friend fights. The cruel boss. The marriage conflicts. The loss of a pregnancy. The illness of a parent. The death of pet.
Sometimes we cry for no precise reason, just because life piles up and topples over. Those cries often feel the best.
Can you remember the places you’ve cried? I can.
On the floor by my bed at age ten. In the hall at high school, hoping no on noticed. In the shower in the dorm, where no one could notice. On a walk. In the car. The middle of the night on the couch, when the rest of the household is asleep.
When menopause set in, my crying stopped. Life was calm then, so perhaps that’s why, but for a while I thought it was the change in hormones.
And you know what? That lack of crying felt odd to me–almost like I’d lost a part of myself.
I shouldn’t have worried. Two years later, the tears came back. I don’t cry like a preschooler or a high schooler or a thirty-year old, but I’m back to crying if it fits the bill.
So I guess the answer is, big girls really do cry. And we’re glad of it! Crying has both psychological and physical benefits. Scientists promise us that tears have a happy purpose.
What about you? Do you cry more or less now that you’re older?
Here’s an interesting article about crying on the website How Stuff Works. The writer points out that many men find themselves starting to cry at midlife. Scientists suspect this is a lowering of testosterone combined with the lack of inhibition that can strike when men are in their fifties and sixties.
Photo: I snapped this photo when I toured the Durham Performing Arts Center a few years ago. I wrote about the tour on this Friend for the Ride post. I suspect the signatures are members of the Four Seasons. Love this song!