Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Big Weep

Sometime around the time that I became an Elderly, I shut down the conduits of emotional weeps. I decided it was all for aught. And granted, although I still might get watering eyes when in severe physical pain, through some process outside of my control, I decided that emotional weeps help nothing, cure nothing, do nothing, so why bother. So I’ll not do that anymore.

And, surprisingly, with that avowal, I’m managed to keep my emotional weeps in check. When I have lost dear ones, I have simply stated, within my mind, ‘This is the way of life. This is it’s cycle and this is what is to be expected.’

Now prior to this time, I used to go out on my deck in the cool of the eve and contemplate constellations, wondering how amongst a limited number of misaligned stars in the heavens, I was supposed to see a helmeted warrior with a novelty belt and sword strapped thereto, and a bear, and God knows what else. I am imaginative. I have always been imaginative, but really. How could anyone see these exotic impressions in a very few star-to-star dotted designs?

But I digress. What I wanted to tell you is that of late, I have lost many dear friends and many dear neighbours. It’s what happens when you live in a small community. I somehow think there wouldn’t be so many if I lived in a large metropolis. I would only be aware of so few. But here, even those I don’t know intimately, or even conversationally, I still know. People say to me, “Did you hear so and so passed away?”

I say, “I don’t think I know that person.”

And they say, “Of course you do. She is the red-haired lady that always grocery shops late on Friday nights, and is in the beauty salon every Wednesday.”

And then of course, I realize that I do know her, have occasionally spoke with her, and she is like so many others, except the odd newcomers, that are an integral part of the familiar landscape in a small town. In a small town there are few that one doesn’t know, albeit in a casual way, enough to feel a vacancy when they are gone. And lately there are many. So very many.

Anyway, this among other emotional traumas, are things I no longer weep about having matured enough to fully understand we all come the same way and leave the same way.

But out on my deck in the cool of the evening, something is happening that I really don’t like one little bit. I don’t like crowds but when I sit on the deck after nightfall it seems so crowded. With a silent crowd. Yet a crowd that is wanting something from me in a restless kind of anxious way.

And though I vow not to feel bad enough to weep, I sit out on my deck in the evening and find myself thinking, with much loneliness, of the many I once knew that were such brave souls, such fine people, such lovers of life, so sturdy and brave and kind; but now they are gone. Yet I feel their presence out on the deck.

A restless kind of presence. They touch me not, but they harass my mind and they are as clearly present as the pictures the constellations hold in such an oblique way.

And finally, finally, I realize I cannot deal with their ghosts any longer although I am glad they are there, but at the same time would rather just sit there mindlessly on my deck for an hour or so before turning in for the night. Does it make sense? Me wanting them there, but yet wanting them to be calmer, quieter, more transparent, more settled.

And finally, I give up. I open up the conduits of salt and water mix and let it flow. I think it is such a stupid exercise. It changes nothing. It alters none of the hard cold and grey facts of what life and death is about. But yet, amazingly, the crowd on my deck slips into a happier venue and they do become warm and transparent and okay as if bathed by my emotions.

Why, or how, I have no idea. Cause despite what I have done, that great big weep didn’t change anything in a concrete way, but in the world of abstraction, it did a beautiful, healing thing.


susan said...

Roberta, I know exactly how you feel. We reach an age where we are the older generation. Instead of aunts and uncles, our friends are dying. It's a stark realization and it's the time we recognize that gone is really gone and people exist only in our thoughts of them. Whether you sat there crying or grinning with glee, they were happy to live for that small moment.

BTW, you're not "elderly" quite yet. susan

Pauline said...

That's what big weeps are for, to cleanse, and settle, and clear away the debris of caring and leave just the pure, shining love we felt and still feel for those gone ahead. Crying is like sweeping out the room.

You've said it so much better. I really like this post. I'm glad you're feeling better about crying...

Roberta S said...

Hi susan, Thank you for that lovely comment. Made me smile amidst my grand weep.

Whether or not I'm elderly? That's debatable. Some days I definitely am, other days I'm definitely not. (sheepish grin here)

Roberta S said...

Pauline, thank you for reminding me how refreshing a grand weep can be. And thank you for honoring that which I felt compelled to write.

Joy Des Jardins said...

We all need that 'big weep' on occasion Roberta. I'm glad you got it out and cleansed your soul. And it really is refreshing..just how it is meant to be. I like Pauline's description. I don't think I necessarily cry more now that I'm older; but I think I have more reason to with what's going on in this world. Yep, maybe I could use a Big Weep right about now.

Roberta S said...

Oh Joy, you are so right about what is going on in the world -- it truly is enough for a grand weep. I sometimes think that a life based on scientific facts and nutrition ratios intended to preserve body health is good, but it can be so overdone it ends up sadly neglecting the exercise needed for the health and nutrition of spirit and soul. And the watershed effect of that is that no amount of expert counselling and intervention can cure the violence and bullying so prevalent in the present generation.

Perhaps that is not at all what you had in mind when you expressed distress about today's world, but that is what first comes to my mind.

joared said...

I can appreciate the thoughts and emotions of your 'big weep.' My weeps mostly come long after the immediacy of the stimulating event. I think fifteen years ago was when I began to be most impacted by a continuing stream of losses that do not end from natural, unnatural causes, expected (actually unexpected expected) and truly sudden unexpected departures from earth.

I recall some years living in a small community where just about everyone knew each other, if not personally. A stranger in town was immediately recognized as being such.

Emotions and thoughts do arise sometimes when we experience those private contemplative moments you describe so well.

Dick said...

I was glad that in that last lyrical statement - 'but in the world of abstraction, it did a beautiful, healing thing' - you acknowledged the function and efficacy of tears. You had me worried for a while with the stoicism!

As I've got older I've found tears to be much closer and because sometimes they seem so pressing I've accepted their primacy. I know what it is from my own life that provokes them - what a coalescence of past and present it is - and so I give in because I know that, for all the indignity and mess, they'll lift the weight.

And as for the great griefs of the world and they way in which sometimes we have to yield to them, one of my favourite little phrases has long been 'lachrymae rerum', the tears of things.

A great post, Roberta. Thanks for it.

Roberta S said...

Thanks for visiting and commenting, Joared. And you are right, contemplative moments do sometimes twine themselves around the unexpected.

Roberta S said...

Dick, I laugh at your apt description of 'tears' as "an indignity and a mess" -- never thought of it that way before.

Quite ironic that something so non-remedial in fixing the problem, can nonetheless make one feel (after that big weep) positive that things have been repaired.

vivinfrance said...

There is a physiological reason for tears making us feel better. Something to do with adrenaline, a release of tension - some medically qualified expert could probably explain better.

As someone who is not just elderly, but old, I agree that with you that age diminishes those emotional weeps - even those due to temper.

The presence of departed friends and family in those quiet moments is something I find comforting, which, in a sense, is their immortality: so long as they are in our memories, they have not gone.

vivinfrance said...

PS I still cry at those weepy films!

Roberta S said...

Hi vivinfrance. As a newcomer, welcome and thank you for visiting.
I forgot about the emotional weeps due to temper. Guess I forgot about them because in my working years, they were so not allowed. Don't know what was behind that rigid standard except the need to never show weakness. Thinking back on it now, there were far too many days when out of anger and huge distress, I really needed the "adrenaline, and release of tension" of which you speak. But no, couldn't do that. Too shameful, too undignified, and absolutely totally unprofessional. Some of my very worst days were days of bad temper when yelling would have been held up as insubordination, but barring that, weeping would have been so much worse. No disciplinary action for weeping, but internally the worse kind of disappointment in myself (the propaganda of professionalism being that one must never, never weep).