I have the most inconvenient eyes. I only have to shed a tear or two and they instantly turn red. And they stay red for hours, signalling to everyone that their owner is a very emotional woman.

As a child I yearned for skin that tanned, with matching brown hair (curly would have been nice). What I had was freckled skin and red hair… and matching red eyes when I cried.

“You’ve been crying! What’s wrong?” everyone asks.

“Nothing! I’m not crying,” I lie.

"Yes, you are! I can see your red eyes."

Why are we so reluctant to admit we cry? Why do we feel we have to keep our emotions safely hidden within us?

On Good Friday, surrounded by a packed church of parishioners, I cried. I just couldn’t help it. We were reflecting on all Jesus had done, because of His love for us. And what did we do in return? We prepared a cross and crucified Him. How could we have done that? I looked around to see if anyone else had tears running down their cheeks. No. There was not a single tear to be seen. And I wondered: “How can anyone not be affected by the thought of Jesus dying such a horrific death just for us?” Was I the only one affected? More likely everyone else had their emotions carefully under control.

I wish I could do that: have sad thoughts, witness heartrending scenes, hear bad news, watch emotional movies… and keep my tears inside my head, away from curious eyes. But I can’t. I open my eyes wide and blink. I bite on my lip, and harden my jaw. I try to think about something else, but it's useless. Even before the first tear inevitably escapes, my eyes are changing colour. I try to swallow the lump in my throat as I reach for a tissue. 

On Good Friday, I thought how good it would be if everyone was expected to cry. I could then cry without restraint. Everyone could. Don’t you think that would do us all a lot of good? We could approach the Cross united by our tears, not embarrassed by them. We could hug and comfort and feel the pain together. Instead we are isolated in our own private worlds of grief, each of us trying not to feel too much in case we get embarrassed. 

When Thomas died, I walked around in my own private world of grief for months, but I cried in public. I cried so much I stopped putting on make-up because I knew the mascara would just wash away in a matter of minutes. My most valuable possession was my box of tissues which I carried with me everywhere. My eyes were perpetually red, and for the first time in my life I didn’t care. I thought, “If I can’t cry openly when my baby dies, when can I cry?”

“Are you okay?” someone kindly asks. "Is something the matter?"

“My baby died,” I reply, knowing my answer justifies my tearful state. 

I just let those tears flow wherever I was… walking down the street, at Mass, by myself. I really couldn’t do much about them. And it helped.

When we can’t cry we tend to bottle things up inside us. We don’t face whatever is causing us sorrow. We dare not let the genii out of the bottle, because once those tears start flowing, we may lose control. We might get embarrassed. Maybe that's not the whole story. Could we also be frightened of facing so much pain?

Just thinking about crying is making my eyes watery. But that’s okay. This is my blog and crying is allowed here. Red eyes are accepted without comment. 

Anyone feel in need of a hug and a few tears? Come on in. Let's put our arms around each other. Let's cry together.

Now doesn't that feel better?

Don't you think the little critter above looks rather sad? Is he a ferret? That might explain his sorrowful eyes. Although he looks cute, he really could be a most unlovable creature. I still have memories of a certain ferret's teeth!

This post is linked to the Memoir Monday hop at Chris' blog, Campfires and Cleats. Please visit for more memoir stories.

Post a Comment

  1. Tears really do bring us to a standstill, don't they? Whether it's our tears or someone else's, they have a way of disrupting things or being confronting. Maybe, there's also something in the fact that they are one emotion that can be impossible to control. Leaky eyes could probably humble the strongest of us, don't you think? But, I guess they also may move the hardest heart to compassion.

    I still hate red eyes, though!

    1. Gosh, my comment sounds like a newspaper column - stilted or what??!!!

      What I meant was - red eyes? Yeah, me, too!!!

    2. Vicky,

      I love both your comments, the newspaper column one and the short to the point one! You are summarising your own comments now! The first one is a FB post, and the second is a Twitter one. None of this has anything to do with tears and red eyes. Never mind. Your comments were far more interesting than my post!

      Do you get red eyes too? I thought it was just my red headed complexion that caused them.

      "Leaky eyes" I like that description!

      God bless!

  2. Crying is just natural !
    My condolences as ur daughter passed away !
    I Know sometiems we dont even needa reason to cry
    even a memory of somethng makes me cry
    a sad movie or a long forgotten best frnd etc etc
    dont worry
    U r not singled out
    A virtual hug to u

    1. Afshan,

      It's comforting to know other people cry too. Yes, it's just natural. Thank you for the hug! Thank you also for visiting my blog. It's great to meet you!

  3. Sue, me too! I'm a cry baby. I've stopped being embarrassed though since someone told me tears are a gift from heaven. Hugs.

    1. Anabelle,

      Tears are a gift from Heaven? Wow! Thank you for sharing that. I will remember that next time I dissolve into tears.

      Hugs and tears definitely go together. Thank you for your hugs. They feel good!

  4. You were a red head as a child Sue? I was a brunette with auburn highlights and I didn't tan either. Freckled and burned is all. I too wished that I could tan nicely and took me years to accept that I cannot. About your comment about why we deny when we're crying is probably due to the fact that by admitting it, we cry harder. Doesn't help to stem the flow. Denial works better for that :)

    I think too that it draws unwanted attention. We may not be able to control it but its compounded when others notice. Then embarrassment sets in.

    I too, cried during Stations of the Cross on Good Friday. The others were probably trying to stay composed. Or they were day dreaming or reciting it in rote fashion. Tears are good!

    God bless!

    1. Noreen,

      You also have fair skin and freckles? It took me a long time to accept my skin too. I was ever hopeful that one day that tan would arrive. It never did! Actually I like my colouring now. These days most people are wary of the sun, and there isn't the same pressure to tan in order to be accepted as beautiful. Also my red hair isn't going grey. It's still very red with 'blonde' highlights. I guess it will be white one day!

      Crying draws unwanted attention... I think you are so right. I really don't want everyone looking at me, wondering if I'm okay.

      If we try to stay composed and not cry, we often don't let ourselves get involved in the experience. I agree that tears are good! We all should be crying when we contemplate the Stations of the Cross. That is something worthy of all the tears we have.

      Thank you so much for your comment. God bless!

  5. Oh my, Sue, this is just beautiful!
    I too, cry during mass...Certain days unhinge me.....

    This is just so great....:
    Just thinking about crying is making my eyes watery. But that’s okay. This is my blog and crying is allowed here. Red eyes are accepted without comment.

    Oh, so true!
    Beautiful and inspirational, as always, Sue!
    Sue, thank you so very much for linking your graceful words to the Memoir Monday hop! I'm honored that you did....

    I went over to your post on the chidren's book you're writing and it looks quite engaging.I can't wait! Good luck!

    And BTW, the picture is adorable. I called my kids over now to see..they're oogling the screen. So cute.

    Love from around the world~~

    1. Chris,

      It's lovely knowing I have friends who cry too. I often want to cry during Mass, especially when I get a sudden feeling of being so very loved.

      My children's book is taking a long time to put together. The text is all ready. I'm just waiting for some illustrations. My eldest daughter has done some for me, and a kind friend has been working on a few too. One day the book will be in print!

      The picture is adorable, I agree! I think it must be a ferret. One of my sons had a ferret as a pet. It was a big mistake letting him have it. The ferret terrified all the girls. It would hang from the bottom of their skirts by its teeth! Eventually we found it a new home on a farm where it was happier chasing rabbits. We were all much happier too, knowing those sharp teeth were a long way away.

      Thank you for your words which once again are so encouraging and beautiful. You always make me feel very special.

      Love to you too!

  6. A good cry is better than a holiday sometimes! I don't mind crying in front of my husband but I hate crying in front of anyone else, it makes me feel like a schoolgirl again. And I get blotchy. Very blotchy!

    1. Kelly,

      Yes, a good cry can make us feel so much better! I'm also comfortable crying in front of certain people (like Andy), but not others. Perhaps it's a sign of good friendship when someone will cry on your shoulder.

      Blotchy? Oh yes... I get all blotchy too. My skin takes hours to get back to normal!

  7. :)

    You and I have discussed this.. as you know I am a crier myself. Why do we lie and try to hide it? Probably we don't want to be perceived as weak. I have blamed allergies many, many times. Those who know me, know I'm lying. They see me cry so often though, they probably just think I saw a rainbow or something silly. "Susan is so sensitive, it could have been something happy." Yes, that's true, but it does not make me happy to be so sensitive. Actually, I hate being sensitive! My eyes get all puffy and red, sometimes my lips too...and I get all blotchy. I'm a MESS when I've been crying!

    Mass... I get overwhelmed in mass too sometimes. I think about Christ's suffering.. sometimes I am just SO MOVED by the hymn we're singing... and then I'm trying to hide my tears.. no one else around me is crying. So I try so hard to keep it together. I agree with you though... if we can't cry at mass, WHEN CAN WE cry?! What's wrong with this world that crying is looked upon as a weakness? So sad. :(

    1. Susan,

      Oh I have made excuses for crying too! There's always something in my eye, or my contact lens has moved!

      It is very inconvenient to be sensitive but I would rather be this way than unfeeling. Mass should make us cry. It is such a profound experience. If only we really understood what is happening, I think we'd all be down on our knees in tears.

      We shall be a blotchy mess together, Susan. When we finally get to visit each other, we're going to make each others' shoulders very wet!

    2. You're going to think I'm crazy Sue, but it fills me with joy to know you are a sensitive soul like me. :) There's not enough of us... we're rather our own 'species'. It's so lovely to have a friend who "speaks the same language///understands!" :) ♥

    3. Susan,

      You're not crazy at all. It is a real blessing to find soul mates. I guess we are very blessed indeed! Thank you for your friendship which I treasure.

  8. ah yes, I am very familiar with the red hair and freckles. We are obviously related. But, I didn't hear you mention the red nose. I inherited that, too. It doesn't come instantly but if I cry for more than a tiny bit, I get a huge clown honker. And my last two children didn't inherit my skin. It is amazing to see a tan form...even if it isn't mine! I am stopping by from Campfires and Cleats. Thanks for sharing. Savannah @ HammockTracks

    1. Savannah,

      I forgot all about the red nose! You are so right. I get one of those too if I cry properly.

      None of my children have my colouring. Obviously there are no red genes on my husband's side of the family. Perhaps in the next generation!

      Thank you for visiting from Campfires and Cleats and reading my post. I love the memoir meme!


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