The floodgates have opened

Friday, January 28, 2011

I remember hearing my wife say something once that really shocked me -- "I need a good cry."


First of all, I couldn't figure out what about a cry is good. Secondly, I couldn't think of any time I had ever needed a cry.

It just sort of happens when it happens.

That was several years ago, though. I would even venture to say she wasn't actually my wife yet the first time I heard her say it.

So over the years, I've come to understand what she means a little better. I can't say that I've ever felt that way, but I've come around. It's been in the same way any man who has spent his whole life single might come around -- by learning to turn on negative emotions besides anger and indignation.

You might not say I'd gotten in touch with those emotions, but I knew where to find them when I really needed them.

It's also not as if I could never cry. At work, I once made reference to the fact that "A Charlie Brown Christmas" makes me cry. It's not just any scene, but the one where Linus explains the true meaning of Christmas. Simply hearing his unassuming voice say, "Lights, please" made me quiver.

Since then, my loving co-workers have tried to mess with me by playing the clip on Youtube multiple times. It never worked because it wasn't in the proper context, which is sitting in my living room in mid-December watching the entire show.

However, when the proper context came up last month, I watched it and still no tears. So thanks a lot, guys, for ruining that for me.

Having a kid also changes a lot about one's propensity to cry. I find myself thinking about things and worrying about certain scenarios that never concern you until another life is totally dependent upon you. Things get a bit more moving.

Two weekends ago, I found myself a complete mess.

The first time came when I read my wife the introduction to "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch. The really quick version of this book is that it's about a lecture Pausch delivered at Carnegie Mellon University when he knew he only had a few months to live.

While the lecture was titled "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," the lecture and ensuing book were really about Pausch trying to pack as much advice and insight for his children into a very small space and time. He did so because he knew he wouldn't be there for the kids when they really needed it.

So as I'm explaining this to my wife and reading her the intro, I found myself getting choked up and unable to go on.

What if this was me? Nicole?

She lost her dad at a young age, is this too much for her?

What advice do I need to be imparting in the time I have?

I finally made it through, but we were both shedding a few tears. A book that had originally seemed an interesting read to me now seemed essential to the new dad in me.

The next time I cried was the next morning at church. We went to Bainbridge Christian Church that morning. Nicole's Grandma was stepping down as an elder after 30 years of service. They said there would be special music dedicated to her.

When I heard this, it immediately popped into my head; don't let it be "Thank You," that song will make me cry. And of course, it was and I did.

So the next day, I decided to have a listen to my newly-downloaded Tom T. Hall collection. Tom's a funny guy, right? I can always feel good listening to "A Week In A County Jail," "I Like Beer" or "I Can't Dance."

What I forgot, though, was Tom is, like so many of my favorite songwriters (John Prine, Johnny Cash, Robert Earl Keen) a "make you laugh or make you cry" kind of songwriter.

So, of course, I found myself fixating on "Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine," "I Hope It Rains At My Funeral" and "Mama Bake A Pie (Daddy Kill A Chicken)."

I didn't cry, but, Lord, I was close.

Jared Jernagan is the assistant editor of the Banner Graphic. He can be reached at 653-5151 ext. 21 or jjernagan@bannergraphic.com