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

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