Wednesday, July 15, 2015

When the Inside Oozes Out

Last night I cried for the first time in a long time.

I didn't cry at my sweet Grandpa's funeral last week. Or during some painful relationship stuff the week before. When, during our camping trip Friday night, torrential rain flooded our tent, Margaret felt sick, and she and I had to sleep sitting up in the front seat of the car. Or when all the moms/daughters I know were at the Taylor Swift concert, which would have been the perfect 14th birthday present for my girl, if only I'd had my act together and $300 bucks sitting around.

I cried in Chipotle.

I went to grab some carryout because Chipotle was donating 50% of its proceeds to an organization that gives extra support to families whose kids have cancer. I hoped to run into a few friends who also support this organization. What I wasn't ready for was to reach the restaurant at the same time as a big crew of 16-18  year old boys. How did I know their ages? Well, I am a student of teenage boys, their mannerisms, their size.  I search their faces for signs of my kid in them, in their joking and jostling, their acne, their abs.

I saw my friend Dawn and asked about her son, one of Jack's buddies. He has started driving. He just got back from motorcycle camp. I wondered what Jack would be doing this summer before junior year.

Teenage boys all around me.

Dawn's son spreading his wings.

The moms and dads whose kids have cancer.

It became too much. I was trapped in line. Hemmed in close behind by another boy I knew from church, the son of another friend, I started my routine to try to stop the tears. Biting the inside of my lips. Digging fingernails into my palms. Looking away from Dawn's kind eyes when she asked if I wanted her to stay with me as I made my way through the line.

No, I shook my head, unable to speak. I wanted to regain control. Not that I think crying is bad. It's cleansing, healing, and natural. But last night I just wanted my damn burrito bowl. I didn't want to be different. I didn't want to show my inward pain on the outside. Others in the restaurant surely didn't want to be different either. The adolescent girl with her hair gone to chemo. The kind dad in front of me who noticed my crying, told me his daughter is a cancer survivor, and asked if I needed to talk. "It's okay if you don't want to talk, but I'm here if you do." I am guessing had his life not fallen apart one day in some pediatrician's office, he wouldn't have taken the time to notice a middle-aged woman sniffling behind him.

But he did notice.

His perspective, like mine, changed and can't be changed back. Same with Dawn, whose red-headed boy, Cortland, lost his friend in the creek. Christine, across the restaurant, who didn't feel snubbed when I finally got my food and darted for the side door without saying hi. Her new path started when her baby's bloated stomach turned out to be neuroblastoma. Even the laughing, joking teenage boys around me were surely acquainted with difference and pain.

Who isn't?

When I made it to the car, I let it all out. Heaving sobs, hands gripping the steering wheel for some semblance of rootedness.

I cried all the way home.

31 comments:

heather blair said...

no words. just hugs.

Sybil@PeaceitallTogether said...

Oh, Anna...this post made me cry. I am so sorry for your pain, even though I cannot begin to understand it. My last public cry was as I watched my seven year old son conquer his fear of swimming, only to be reminded - by watching the other kids at the pool - that he is seven and most the other boys his age are leaping off the side of the pool and swimming across its length while he is learning how to put his face in the water. So proud of him, yet so hurt because his normal is different than the others.

Terri Jackson said...

The perfect description - "when the inside oozes out." No words, thinking of you.

KattyM said...

Dear Anna,
I could have written this post...except it's 7-9 year old boys...
These days it's the swimming pool - fortunately it's wet so can hope people don't notice. My now almost 4y old is attracted to playing with them and has more than once pointed/yelled: this one looks like Alex...
I remind myself that God sometimes wants to use our weakness...and then I let it go.
Big hugs! We will always be different and always try to imagine...

Anonymous said...

Your words are so beautiful. You don't know me, but I know you from your moving blog. I, too, am from the DC area. I understand what it means to have your inside ooze out. Mine ooze out when I least expect it sometimes, too. The pain of losing a loved one is indescribable. I have never lost a child, but I have lost a sister. It happened in a freak accident, when she was the tender age of two, twenty six years ago. One of the hardest parts for me is knowing the deep pain that my parents have experienced. We still mourn her loss, even today. We have to keep moving forward, right? I wish you peace and strength. Your insides are oozing out which means you are alive, you are feeling, you are grieving. And you will get through this.

Cassie @ Primitive & Proper said...

thinking of you, anna! it's good to get it out sometimes. i cried in public on a treadmill at the gym once.... sometimes you just can't help it when things happen around you, thoughts enter your head... and it's ok.

Susie - Recovering Church Lady said...

Hugs to you dear one.

Momza said...

I'm sorry your heart aches for your son. I hope that this morning's light brought peace and calm with it. Thank you for sharing.

Jen said...

Thanks for sharing Anna. Hugs...

Paula Bicknell said...

Crying with you, Anna. Wish I could hug you. Grief ambushes me when I least expect it these days. It's like I have a tiger in my life now that wasn't there before our Anna died in May. That tiger of mourning that now stalks our family, lying in wait, and springing upon us at different times for different reasons. But my faith has grown, my connection with Jesus stronger than ever because it has to be. Prayers and hugs!

luv2run said...

HUGS ANNA!!!!!!! JUST BIG TIGHT HUGS!!!!!

Suburban Correspondent said...

It changes form, grief does, but it never ends. And as you said, it changes you and you can't go back.

claire plante said...

Oh Anna I am so sorry!!!!!! Sending you hugs and love and prayers. I think of you all the time. I see Jack in every beautiful sky.

More hugs, more love,

Claire

A Speckled Trout said...

The image of all that heartbreak in one place boggles the mind. I'll never go into a Chipotle again and not wonder what sadness surrounds me while waiting to order. Anywhere for that matter. I'm sorry. Always.

Fiona LilyfieldLife said...

beautiful Anna, i'm feeling for you xx

Anonymous said...

xo

A Hope and A Future said...

xo

Anonymous said...

You are such an amazing, gifted writer.

love,
jbhat

One crazed mommy said...

Sending hugs - sometimes that ooze just has to get out, and you just never know when it will hit. I'm sorry it had to be in public like that - I, like you, like to cry with no spectators - if I'm at home, I will lock myself in the bathroom. I have been there, though, and it sucks. :( Grief continues, but it does change - I too have never lost a child, but lost my brother to a car accident when I was 14. Last week (July 7th) would have been his 46th birthday - still hard to believe he has been dead longer than he lived on this earth. That hurts my heart, although I do know he's in a better place. But...that doesn't help those of us who love him and wish he was still here, because we just miss him...and always will.

Peg said...

Sorry. I cry a lot in the car. In church. At the beach. I can usually get out to my car in time but have been know to shed a few at Target. Sending hugs.

Elaine Alguire said...

I felt like I was in line with you. I'm so sorry my friend. xo

victoriawhyte said...

Sending you hugs - I can so relate to this.

Winston said...

Hugs

www.robinbotie.com said...

Amazing. Beautiful. I was right there with you. Thank you for this.

Andrea Mowery said...

Oh, goodness. You are such a light, Anna, even through your tears. xoxo

Andrea Mowery said...

Oh, goodness. You are such a light, Anna, even through your tears. xoxo

ella said...

xoxo

Cynthia said...

I love you so much, my heart breaks for you every day.

Alison said...

Oh Anna. My sweet Anna. Lots of love to you. xo

Lisa Ancona-Roach said...

Cyberhug from the (broken) heart.

Brooke said...

I cried like this today, reading a blog series I always enjoy about motherhood around the world. I learned that in Kenya, mothers are often referred to by their oldest child's first name--so you would be "Mama Jack." But since my first baby was stillborn, I'll never be "Mama Eliza" and somehow the sadness of that slammed into me and my light blog-reading morphed into a cry-fest. Grief triggers are so sneaky that way. But teenage boys + childhood cancer is a pretty understandable recipe for tears. And you're right--there's nothing wrong with crying in itself! It's just that sometimes you just want a damn burrito bowl (and for everything to just be a little easier and lighter as you wait in line for it).