Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wasted Tears

On Wednesday, I was so anxious for my daughter to come home from college I kept bursting into tears, really just pent up emotions hoping everything would be okay. And, of course, it was. When I got home from work, there she was, curled under blankets sleeping on the couch. Thirty minutes later, she went out with friends. It's so wonderful having her home again!

Kids don't mean to make their parents cry, but they do. Recently, my friend told me she'd been crying over a problem concerning her daughter every night for weeks, even in her car, listening to sad music to cry some more. But then remarkably the situation resolved itself. She laughed at herself for the homemade drama but I couldn't stop thinking about all those wasted tears.

Which leads in a circuitous way to a story I've been meaning to tell about my brother David and I when we were kids.

On trips to Florida, my father would bring home painted turtles, no bigger than a silver dollar. We'd play with them for a few days and then they'd die. Afterward, David and I'd have an elaborate burial ceremony between our yard and the neighbors', where we'd place the deceased in a box and proceed solemnly from the driveway to a spot under the magnolia. But one time, as soon as we bent down to place the turtle in the ground, it started wriggling around... then stopped. We began again: we walked to the end of the line, crying and saying our prayers, and the damn thing started up again. We did this over and over until, finally, we buried it. It seems cruel now, but I can imagine my brother and I thinking as we made that long march: Why waste all those good tears?


  1. ach, what an image! David Sedaris wrote about inadvertantly killing baby sea turtles as a kid and i couldn't bear to read it. the throughline of your tale is amazing. wasted tears trickling from one reality into the next.
    one could say the tail wags the story?

  2. I can't believe you caught this story as it went on and off line, as I agonized over that very throughline a gadzillion times. So Thank You for your comment; You saved the turtle from another death!

  3. Wowowow. Louise is right - the tears trickle through, creating a trail to follow. Amazing & strange.

    What is the painting at the top?

  4. The painting is my attempt to capture my friend driving in her car listening to sad music; perhaps it looks more like it's rained inside an old leaky VW...?

  5. Okay, this is really the first time I've ever been in blogville, how amazing ...My god, how I loved those little turtles - as far as I can remember it was the first time I had wonder for anything living other than people and the standard pets, and I see it now in my love for miniature art, painted snuff bottles, Indian paintings, wood carvings...the thing is, I don't remember this specific burial (kind of a bring-out-your-dead! moment) but I remember another one where the same thing happened with a rather large black rhinoceros beetle. How that beetle found it's way into a shoebox on our stairs is anybody's guess, I can see Dad doing this, yet then again perhaps it arrived through some kind of space/time warp. Quite startling - what a mix of curiosity and fear I had for it!. Anyway, that little puppie couldn't stand the thought of being buried, and crawled out of the grave several times.
    The thing is - and I'm probably going way too far here - as Wendell Berry said, we go through life with the "forethought of grief." Tears for what hasn't died yet, and damnit, don't we want the outer reality to match our inner. A local boy, Mark Twain, nailed it when he said "Some of the the worst things in my life never happened." Thanks Sis for the memory.

  6. Wasted tears? NEVER, specially when following the tears come laughter and relief...i loved that you mentioned your friend crying in the car listening to sad music, because i do the same the only difference is that i put my new sunglasses on. Sunglasses that i bought specially for when i cry in the car. Camila leaves home tomorrow. Leila and her are having their last fight in the bathroom. This morning was technically the last morning that I woke her up to go to school, i can fill your blog with so much last time stuff...and all the things that make me cry about her departure, however i am choosing to feel really proud of her courage and independence. She asked me to stop crying and i did, i told her i took these no-cry pills that dry your eyes immediatelly after the first tear threatens to run down your face, for a second she believed me...than of course we both busted laughing...

  7. Yes my friend, that is you in the car, the drawing is based off you driving your little car around Rome, next time I'll include the sunglasses! I'm glad you're focusing on the bravery of your daughter. I love the idea of no-cry pills, and you both laughing (not crying) together. an update soon. xox