Several months ago I attended a funeral for a bright blue-eyed baby that fought his hardest for his 12 days of life. His incredibly strong parents shared a quote by Washington Irving that has stuck with me since.
“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not a mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition and of unspeakable love.”
Long story short, my husband and I have struggled to start a family. It is no major surprise since it seems to run in the family, but struggled nonetheless. After almost a year of trying, the little stick finally showed two lines – pregnant! My immediate thought was “this is too good to be true” and “it can’t be this easy for me.” I could feel myself becoming over the moon excited for a baby to come this summer.
I repeated the whole pee on a stick thing six times just to really confirm the first positive test. Six times. Just one day after the positive pregnancy test, I had a crib picked out, four pregnancy books bought, a list of my top five favorite boy and girl names written in sharpie (sharpie is a big deal for me), and my eight-week appointment set. I was ready for this baby.
My husband left to go out of town for a week for a work conference. That very day I started to feel a bit off. Over the weekend I started to have some symptoms that are typical for the first few months of pregnancy but also overlap with some symptoms of miscarrying. This being my first ever pregnancy, I had no idea how to tell the difference. I made it through the weekend and on Monday met with my doctor and learned that I miscarried. Devastation started welling up in my eyes and tears began pouring out of me.
My husband was 1,800 miles away. My parents were over 2,000 miles away. And, since I parked in the wrong parking lot, I had to walk almost a mile to get back to my car. Balling my eyes out. Washington Irving’s quote came to my mind and this salty water coming out of my eyes started to take on a whole new meaning.
Lessons from my tears
- Tears are sacred. The tears that were continuously streaming down my face were in respect and reverence for our little family’s loss. We were overjoyed at the thought that we would be starting our own little family. The tears were not just salty drops coming from my eyes because of my hormones or because the nurse that drew my blood said something insensitive, but in respect for what could have been. We could have had a child together this summer and knowing that it wasn’t going to happen was overbearing. My tears meant something. My tears are sacred.
- Tears are powerful. My husband has not actually cried since his grandmother passed away over 5 years ago. He’s been teary while watching a Nicholas Sparks movie or two but has not legitimately cried since 2014. As I listened to him cry over the phone I did not associate his tears with weakness. All I could think about was the power that comes with becoming a parent. Granted, parents are not perfect, they are human and make mistakes, but regardless of those faults, parental power carries some major weight. His tears over someone he had never even met yet showed me the power of love that can come with becoming a parent. Tears are powerful.
- Tears speak. I had a kidney stone a few months ago and I shed many tears as that little sucker was making its world debut. There is something definitively different between cries of physical pain versus cries of emotional pain. Instead of my kidney bursting, my heart ached like it had never ached before. I already loved that 5.5-week, sesame-seed-sized, little human and the thought of never getting the chance to meet him/her was too much that all I could do was cry. I love the segment in Irving’s quote “[the tears] speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues.” I didn’t need someone to give me a bunch of advice, nor did I need to explain to everyone how I was feeling, I just needed someone to sit and cry with me.
I used to think that if I was not physically hurt, then crying was not needed – that it was a time that I just needed to “suck it up” and move on. I have learned that tears are not only meant for scraped knees or kidney stones, but for emotional pain too.