I tend not to cry as much as I used to. I still have my moments though. I sometimes cry in my sleep and wake up with wet cheeks. Sometimes it all wells up under my eyes but I get a handle on it and it subsides. And sometimes I have those epic biblical cries with the gnashing of teeth and the rending of cloth.
But I really don’t cry all that often anyway. It’s just kinda sad all the time, so there’s not really any point crying. Crying is such a reactive thing and the grief is always there. If I cried every time I felt sad, I’d hardly get anything else done.
The only problem is the car. When I’m driving, I have enforced alone time. An hour’s drive is a whole lot of unwanted thinking time. I’ve tried listening to music, talk-radio and podcasts. Nothing is a big enough distraction. If I’ve got a passenger, I’m fine. But if I’m on my own, I’ll be crying while driving. Or criving. Having a big old crive.
It can get pretty bad sometimes. Especially when I don’t realise I’m doing it at first. It’s not the big gasping, sobbing sadness that overtakes me. It can just be a steady stream of tears leaking out of the old tear ducts. Like a leaky tap. I remember one drive where I had the windscreen wipers going for a few rounds before I realised that it wasn’t rain that was blurring my vision. It was in fact a completely sunny day.
If I really want to torture myself, I put on the CD of music we played at his funeral. That’s a kicker. It’s actually some really beautiful music. The kind of stuff I would listen to ordinarily. But there are still a couple of tracks I skip every time. There’s one in particular that I can remember him singing along to, and I can’t help but hear him singing whenever I play that track. It should be something that makes me smile. I’m sure I’ll get there one day. But it’s still a torture track at the moment.
I read recently that different kinds of tears look different under a microscope. The photographs are the most beautiful artworks. Check out a post about it here. So ‘tears from laughing so hard you cry’ look entirely different to ‘tears from cutting onions’. They’re almost like snowflakes. I’d love to see a series of each kind of tear to see how much variation there is. Whether ‘tears of elation at a liminal moment’ look the same every time. And whether that’s the same for every person. Here’s what tears of grief look like.
It’s strangely comforting to think that my tears of grief look so beautiful magnified under a microscope. Perhaps I’ll try to think about that next time I’m criving. To be perfectly honest, I crive far less often that I used to. But it still happens often enough to warrant a term of its own. Feel free to use it.
I like to think of Rob McKenna as I drive. He’s a minor character is Douglas Adams’ ‘So Long and Thanks for all the Fish’. He’s an ordinary lorry driver who can never get out of the rain. It’s raining on him every moment of his life. He knows that sunny skies exist because he can see them in the distance but, by the time he drives there, it’s raining there too. He even begins to catalogue different types of rain, like ‘breezy droplets’, ‘dirty blatter’ and ‘light pricking drizzle which made the roads slippery’. He absolutely hates the rain and is always sad and cranky. But the chapter ends in the most gorgeous way: “And as he drove on, the rainclouds dragged down the sky after him, for, though he did not know it, Rob McKenna was a Rain God. All he knew was that his working days were misterable and he had a succession of lousy holidays. All the clouds knew was that they loved him and wanted to be near him, to cherish him, and to water him.”
Isn’t that glorious? So I think of the Rain God who doesn’t know he’s a Rain God. And the clouds wanting to water him. And I wonder that perhaps I’m not some kind of Grief Goddess. Like Nienna of the Valar. Obscure Tolkien reference, anyone? Though I always thought ‘Lady of Mercy’ was a big of a raw deal when all the other gods and godddesses has such sweet powers. Maybe I should catalogue the tears. Or imagine the tears under a microscope. Or maybe I should just start taking the bus. I don’t have any answers for this one. As always, it’s just going to take time.
[Featured image source]