Elie's Expositions

A bereaved father blogging for catharsis... and for distraction. Accordingly, you'll see a diverse set of topics and posts here, from the affecting to the analytical to the absurd. Something for everyone, but all, at the core, meeting a personal need.


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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Tear Triggers

A couple of my recent posts touched on the topic of tearfulness. Last week, in talking about my contrary nature, I confessed that the endings of certain "guy" movies get me all choked up. Then in my post about my father two days ago, I reminisced about the rare occasions when I witnessed him break down and cry.

Now inspired by Jack's repost of his beautiful essay on regaining the ability to cry, I'm inspired to share further. My experience was quite a bit like Jack's, in that once I entered my teen years, I practically lost my ability to cry (I was a great crier as a kid, though!). Major problems in my life, heartaches, bitter blows, betrayals, would make me rage, sulk, scream, shut down, toss and turn all night, but never break down and sob.

But ironically, there were certain small things - stories I'd read, songs I'd heard, or video images I'd seen - that somehow broke those barriers and tapped into that unspilled well of emotion. These special triggers had the ability to set me off crying just by thinking about them.

Since losing my son, it would be easier to list what now doesn't make me cry. Nearly everything I see, hear, or think about can suddenly become a bitter reminder that brings the too familiar lump back to my throat, the tears back to my eyes. My very way of life has changed so fundamentally that I wonder if I will ever feel even close to "normal" again.

Yet strangely, the old triggers, those phrases and scenes, still function exactly as they always did. Somehow they still tap into the same pre-bereavement wellspring of primal, raw sadness as they always did; no more and no less so than before the loss. I guess certain emotional responses are so deep-rooted as to be literally unshakable.

Most people probably have a list of "tear triggers" like these. I have read that actors think about theirs when they need to cry on cue. These are just a few of mine, the ones I can remember of at the moment. Some are the same as my father's; whether they also became my own through inheritance, empathy, or some kind of pavlovian learned-response, who can say? But some are unique to me.

- "Roll Me Away" by Bob Seger

- "Turn Around" by the Kingston Trio

- The last page of Asimov's "The Ugly Little Boy"

- The last page of "Another Day" by Marie Hall Ets (see note added to the post on my dad)

- The last verse of Maoz Tzur

- The last lines of the Star Trek episode "This Side of Paradise" - "...except that, for the first time in my life, I was happy."

OK, that's enough for now. Can't find the keyboard any more.

[How about you all? What little things like these make you cry?]

6 Comments:

At 3/3/06, 1:27 AM, Blogger Ezzie said...

I'll admit - the little things do, the big things don't. Watching people's dreams get crushed or fulfilled are at the top of the list; watching great or terrible things happen to be people (even if not real sometimes) is up there as well.

 
At 3/3/06, 8:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1) Witnessing the birth of a baby.

2) Watching parents walk their children down the aisle and looking at the faces of the chosson, kallah and parents under the chuppah.

 
At 3/3/06, 9:08 AM, Anonymous Tova said...

I always cry while reciting the Piyut "V'Yesayu Kol Lavdecha" and also at the end of Yom Kippur.. I also get choked up at the end of the (ArtScroll?) kids book, But Then I Remembered" where a grou[p of kids talk about good things they learned from their parents or grandparents. The last line of the book is, "I wonder what my children will say about me..."

 
At 3/3/06, 9:19 AM, Blogger Mirty said...

I was a huge crier as a kid, and much teased for it. Around age 12 I finally learned how to delay the tears from time of trigger to later, crying it out on my pillow when I went to bed.

Tears have always been pretty close to the surface for me. I think I have a "melancholy" inclination.

 
At 3/6/06, 5:25 PM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

When Norbert grew up and left home. That got me really misty. Oh, wait I'm not Hagrid.
I think when Kirk yells "Ka-a-a-a-hn" through the moon's surface still is quite an emotional moment for me.

 
At 3/6/06, 5:29 PM, Blogger Elie said...

Thanks for the comments, all.

A lot of these same things hit me emotionally too. But the ones I listed are more intense for me; just thinking about them is enough. Most other movies, songs, books, events, etc. I have to be actually watching, hearing, reading, or experiencing at the time for them to get me emotional.

 

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