Life Lessons
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The Last Time I Cried

(Graphic: Nancy Gonzalez/TueNight)

I am a crier. I can’t sing the national anthem without getting that familiar knot in my throat. I’m not particularly patriotic, but I have to forcefully squash down my tears by thinking about something actually sad like an old dog dying. Seriously. I know that sounds crazy, like I should be crying about the dog not the dang flag, but it’s all those people standing together, the vibrations of humans in harmony, that gets me every. single. time.

Of course there are the more depressing reasons I cry — a fight with a friend, the loss of someone close, the loss of many, seemingly far away.

Thinking about the various times we weep, I’ve been curious about the mix of reasons for it — the momentary tear, the ugly cry, the long, sobbing jags.

So over the course of a day, I asked some of our contributors and colleagues: when was the last time you cried? The answers are multifarious and give a glimpse into the big moments, strange triggers and little everyday things that move us to tears.

* perhaps a warning is necessary here. Some of these are…well…I’m already getting verklempt.

I’ll start.

Sports Reporting

I am not exactly a sports fan but my husband got me into HBO’s Real Sports — a show that will grab you in the feels. I dare you to watch an entire episode and not well up. This piece about the Wounded Warriors Kids camp  — vets who coach softball to kids who are also missing limbs is beautiful and, well, just thinking about it, I’m crying again…My husband and I sat on the couch Sunday, blubbering away.

— Margit

Children Singing

“Without fail, I cry whenever I hear children singing. Waterworks every single time. For a moment or two, they’re like angels. And maybe they are.”

Kim O’Donnel

An Empty Stomach

“The last time I cried was a couple of weeks ago when I was on the ‘Mexican cleanse’ (I had just returned).  After a week of juice and yogurt, I was so hungry I started crying at my desk.”

 — Courtney Colwell

Work

“I cried last night. Running your own business is hard, and I get scared and lonely and sometimes want to just hang up my hat. I was feeling especially scared about money (aren’t we all)?”

— Meredith Fineman, Founder, Finepoint, writer

Our Pets

“I had to say good-bye to my beloved pooch Ollie last Monday after 13 wonderful years, so for the past week, the time I spent not crying is notable. I’m a freaking mess. And a very public one at that, as I’ve been indulging in a virtual wake/memorial for her on Facebook and Twitter since that fateful night.”

—Jen Bekman, Founder, 20×200

“I recently — and extremely unexpectedly — lost my beloved dog of nine years, Lila Belle. Though it’s been over two months, I still tear up nearly every day, both as I’m still mourning her but also, now, as the pain has started to abate, with happiness behind those tears. Lila Belle had the sweetest face, often “smiling”, and this photo sits on my desk. I cried, quietly, about an hour ago, with a few tears running down my cheek. “

— Aubrey Sabala, marketer

Loss

“I cried this weekend because I was missing my uncle, who, along with many of his peers, lost his life to AIDS 20 years ago. I cried for him, and for all the sadness of that era. I would give anything for him to be sitting with the family, regaling us with stories, and getting to know my daughter.”

— Jenna Briand

“I cried on Saturday afternoon in the middle of the street when a car passed by blasting the ABBA song, Super Trouper. It’s an incredibly cheesy tune, but it was my dad’s favorite.”

Susan Linney

Home

“The last time I cried was a week ago. I was sitting in the middle of the emptied-out, rent-stabilized apartment I’d called home for 20 years. The place was kind of a dump, but it had been MY dump. I was moving under the best circumstances possible — a landlord buyout financed an apartment twice the size of the one I was leaving, but still, I was gutted. I sobbed so hard I kept hyperventilating.  Until I moved into that place, I’d moved every few years, throughout my entire life. But this was the first place I’d ever considered my home and now it would be torn down and made into yet another rich-people Habitrail.”

Judy McGuire

“I was watering the plants in our garden last week as I watched my neighbor/landlord/sister-from-another-mother move out of our building after 17 years. Her three kids are like my own. The upshot of her very nasty divorce is that she is being forced to sell the property we all live in, which means I might be homeless soon, too.

I sobbed hysterically — and I mean gasping, buckets of tears. I put my head on her shoulder in sorrow, which prompted her own onslaught of tears. But I couldn’t even hug her at first because I had a watering can in each hand. I placed them both on the ground, and we embraced each other tightly.”

— Lauren Young

Separation

“The last time I cried was on Friday, after returning home from a business trip to an unopened card proclaiming “Happy 10th Anniversary” on the envelope. Seems only my in-laws (and the whole of the internet) don’t know that my husband and I are separating.”

—Anonymous

“So, I am not a crier. Especially in public — I’d rather die. The last time I cried was when my ex and I sold our house. It was the culmination of an ugly year-long split. At the closing, out of nowhere, I found myself weeping. Tears streamed down my face, I couldn’t breathe and had to leave the room. The buyers had no idea what to make of me.

After what seemed like hours, I got myself together enough to go back in and finish signing the paper work. As we walked to the parking lot and started to say goodbye, the finality of it all hit me. I burst into tears again, and this time there was no holding it back. My ex looked at me in horror. I cried for all we had lost, for our fun young love, our 13 years, my 30s. Once I could finally see and breathe well enough to drive, I got in the car and realized that I had all I needed. Me. Alone. And it was enough.”

— Kate Davis

War

“I was escorted out of an Israeli Peace Rally in Copenhagen (I was actually just onlooking) by the police because of Palestinian protestors throwing rocks/getting violent. It was terrifying.”

Jessica Randazza

Feeling Alone

“I cried Wednesday last week, finally falling apart over the recent development of a serious turn of events with a condition I have that has been steadily escalating, one attack at a time. I am a really independent person, always have been, but the thought of having surgery for a problem that can’t totally be fixed, that might continue to worsen, that will require invasive abdominal surgery, and then to face the six to eight week recovery at home, alone, with my 10-year-old. Well, dammit, I just got totally overwhelmed and sad: My parents are dead; can’t take care of me. I don’t have a partner; can’t take care of me. My son is 10; can’t take care of me. Yes, I have friends; great friends. But there are times that I remember that I am mostly alone, and last week was one of those times.”

Stacy Morrison

Art

“The last time I cried was yesterday morning, when I remembered this touching video of the performance artist Marina Abramović coming unexpectedly face-to-face with her old lover, Ulay. Note: I didn’t even need to watch the video again to weep. Just thinking about it got my tear ducts working.”

Tina Rowley

A Little Respect

“I’m crying right now. I teach writing online for a prestigious university, but my MFA isn’t in English; it’s in art. I decided after my freshman year of college that if I majored in English, I’d hate writing forever, and writing has always been the most precious thing in the world to me. Instead, I decided to study other stuff I was interested in.

I have a new class that’s about to start, and a parent whose kid was assigned to me looked at my LinkedIn profile and emailed my supervisor demanding that her daughter be reassigned to “someone with more mainstream ‘English teacher’ credentials.” My supervisor forwarded her email to me, and it really was quite nasty. It actually included the words, “[She] seems like a very creative person, but…”

Well, just now I got an email from the program director. He laid the smack down on this woman and said, “Our selectivity in choosing candidates to interview is more than 20 to one. Stacy proved to us with her sample critiques that she is certainly as strong a writer and teacher as the people we see with English degrees from Harvard.”

I’ve NEVER had anyone stand up for me like this.  Growing up in rural Arkansas, I was the first person on either side of my family to ever go to college. I had to fight tooth and nail to get out of there and get an education. I’ve spent my life feeling intellectually inferior because I could only afford state schools, and I went to a high school where half the shelves in the library didn’t even have books. And yet, the director of this gifted and talented program just said I was good enough.”

— Stacy, teacher

FROZEN!

“The last time I cried was watching Frozen. And it was the second time I’d seen it. Maybe it’s because I wish my sister lived closer to me so we could be a bigger part of each others’ lives.”

Wendy Goldman Scherer

Being a Mom

“Last night as I was falling asleep and I heard my son singing and playing the banjo outside — he’s been teaching himself. It made me miss my dad terribly, reminding me how fleeting and precious life is. And also, how memories and people live on and what beauty there is to savor in the small moments.”

— Kathleen D. Warner, strategic advisor

“Yesterday I  cried when talking to my teenage son about his lack of help around the house…and how I hate to have to harangue him to finish a job.  I see love as acts of service and for him not to do them for me, actually seems like a lack of love.”

— Amy Cross, Vitamin W

“I think it would be more noteworthy if I told you the last time I DIDN’T cry. Ever since I became a mother, I can’t shut it off. Which is probably why the last time I cried was watching this video, yesterday: Debi Jackson on being the mom of a transgender child.”

Nancy Davis Kho

When was the last time you cried? Share with us below.

14 Comments

  1. Pingback: Editor’s Note: We’re Getting All Emotional | Tue Night

  2. AdriannaDufay says

    The last time I cried was yesterday. I was with my children, flying from Chicago to New York. It’s always stressful flying with kids, and my husband and I are always trying hard to make sure we keep the kids fed/peed/on best behavior… When my older daughter got on the plane, the pilot waved her into the cockpit and let her sit in the seat, showing her around. He even let her press some buttons. And then later, in one of his announcements, he made a cute joke about how she was going to read over the intercom to everyone.

    When I was a kid, that’s what airline travel was like. But these days, it’s scary and stressful and other passengers (it feels like) are just waiting to pounce on anything your kid does wrong, anything you do wrong. It was such a relief to have someone be kind and friendly and be happy to see my kids. I cried with relief, quietly, in my seat.

  3. Marybeth Barber says

    And then there is the “commercial cry” – where you feel used and abused, but still oh-so-real. ((gasp))

  4. Adrianna Dufay says

    Ok, honestly, there’s a commercial — maybe for bleach? — that has a dad doing the laundry for his daughters, happily. It makes me teary. Does that make me a sucker?

  5. Alexandra Rosas
    GDRPempress says

    Leaving a conference, filled with people that mean so much to me. Thinking how they are why I don’t even know what it feels like to be lonely anymore.

  6. Alexandra Rosas says

    Cried as I left a conference, filled with people that have changed my life so that I don’t even know what it feels like to be lonely anymore.

  7. Shira Mizel
    Shira Mizel says

    I feel like the “Extreme Home Makeover cry” is a close cousin. All those super deserving families and that heartstring yanking music…exploitive but effective!

  8. Shira Mizel
    Shira Mizel says

    Margit’s happy tears over “the vibrations of humans in harmony” during the anthem perfectly sums up how I feel about this piece. Thanks to everyone for sharing!

    I saw Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ last week and was on the verge of tears for much of the film. In the scene that finally got me, a tired single mother reads ‘Harry Potter’ to her son and daughter. I was immediately reminded of how hard my mom worked after the divorce, how my brother and I bonded in the chaos, and how Harry’s problems always made my Muggle ones seem small.

  9. Sue Joyce says

    While having an ultrasound this am (for nothing important) and realizing I missed the “whoosh whoosh” sound meaning I was having a baby. Which is thankfully my choice, but still feeling it as something I miss.

  10. The last time I cried…was watching the last episode of Californication. Saying goodbye to my guilty pleasure and Hank Moody was just reason enough for a good cry.

  11. Jessica Baskin Taylor says

    I used to cry a lot, but thanks to Zoloft I rarely do anymore…so when I do, I know it’s a big deal. Like saying goodbye to my kids (ages 9 & 13) last weekend as they left for overnight camp for 3 weeks, by far the longest we’ve ever been apart.

  12. Olivia Fackelmayer says

    Often at the moment. Our beloved Lab died 3 weeks ago next Monday. She was 15 and the sweetest girl. I miss her terribly. I miss her as we moved to a state where I knew no one at all. But she was always there. I thought she would live forever……

  13. Pingback: The TueDo List: Weepy Tunes, Beerfest, a Tearjerker, and Cathartic Yoga | Tue Night

  14. The last time I cried was in panic. I have a great job with a wonderful company yet have an issue with one of my co-workers. This person was terribly moody (as we all can be, I know) and all day I would sit facing my open door as he stomped in and out of his office, sighing, grumbling, even swearing. I felt for him, as I knew he was dealing with a lot at the time, but the attitude was wearing on me. Had I been able to move my computer on my desk and not faced the open door I would have, just to ease the feelings I was having in response to his brooding. Yes, I could have closed my door, and did at times, but my office was the size of a walk in closet without an air vent. Things in the office were changing. Some people left and our department dwindled from 12 people to six and the opportunity to move to different offices was before us. I felt such relief. It was possible, that soon, I would not have to witness his constant sour attitude. However, the first discussion I had with my boss about the office move, was one where he suggested that I be moved to a different, bigger office across the “big room,” which we called the room where 4 office doors were located. My boss’s next suggestion, was that my moody neighbor also be moved… to the office, with a door at a 90% angle from the office he thought to move me into. I left the meeting taking deep breaths and trying to concentrate on the fact that his suggestions were just suggestions. It didn’t work. Once I got to my chair, I burst into tears and quickly got up to close my door and shut myself into the tiny room. I cried hard. I was so worn out from trying to keep a positive attitude with his horrible one in my face everyday that I didn’t know how I would function at the job much longer. Another co-worker, a very sweet young lady with a huge heart knocked on my door to let me know lunch had arrived (we’d ordered pizza). She slid open the pocket door, took stock of my state, closed the door behind her and leaned down to give me a hug. She then left my office without saying a word.

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