Wearing & Writing Your Emotions
I recently spent a weekend surrounded by many loved ones in celebration of my younger cousin’s wedding. I live a considerable distance from the majority of my family who live in the south and rarely get to see most of them. So the weekend was more than just a wedding. It was a chance for much of my family to meet my daughter, now 3, for the very first time. It was a chance for my kids to bond with their great grandfather, to run with their many cousins, to cuddle with their grandparents. And it was a chance for me to reconnect with my roots.
The moment we pulled onto the street leading to my grandparents’ home, I felt the tears stinging my eyes. My Granny has been gone from us for six years now and I consider myself used to her absence. But as soon as I am in her place—the home she cared for me in so often, the park we regularly visited to feed the ducks, the streets we walked for trick or treating—the loss becomes very raw. I went straight to my mother’s arms and let myself release the tears. “I don’t know why I get so emotional,” I whispered to her.
That evening as my kids ran around my uncle’s home, chasing their two older cousins, my grandfather rocked in a chair and said aloud, “Jenny, look at what we did!” I may have been the only one who heard him in the chaos, and I excused myself so I could take a moment, again, to be emotional.
The next day the sun shone bright as the other side of my family gathered at the church. As soon as I walked the aisle and slid into a row by my aunts, uncles and cousins that I hadn’t seen in so long, I felt it all over again. The emotion. And when my little cousin, not so little anymore, entered the front of the church to await his bride, I lost it again. My cousin next to me smiled, saying, “Oh Jess!”
When the ceremony was over and we all loitered, waiting our turn for the large official family portrait, I stood with my dad. I knew his thoughts, so I voiced them. “Mamaw and Papaw would love this, daddy.” “Yes, they would,” he agreed. “They would be so proud to see all of their grandkids and great grandkids.”
But I felt them there, sitting on the velvety soft bench, taking it—us—all in. My beaming Papaw with his silver hair combed perfectly, wearing his Sunday best of pale blue slacks and gray Member’s Only Jacket. My little Mamaw quietly next him, smiling and fingering her plastic beads with one hand, clutching her purse with the other. “Oh, they see us,” I told him. “I know they do. And they are indeed proud. I feel it.”
Sappy. Sentimental. Sensitive. I’ve been described as all of these. And while I may not quite know why I get so emotional, I am proud that I do. I want people to know they touch me. I want my parents to know how incredibly important they are to me. I want them to understand how very much their own parents mean to me. I want my loved ones to know that no matter how far apart we are, they are with me every single day. And if shedding tears is my way of expressing that, then so let them fall.
Writing is yet another way to express emotion. I know I don’t need to tell you that. It has been said that writers put their pens to paper and bleed. It’s a lasting, tangible way to show that we care, deeply, about our world and those in it. It’s another way of wearing our emotions on our sleeves. And it’s why so many voraciously read—to feed the need to absorb emotions. We need to know we are loved, that we are remembered. And I guess maybe I do know why I get so emotional–why I write, read and cry. Because I so greatly want to love and be loved.