Let me be clear about this--I don't like to cry about Allie in front of people.
My tears are mine. Private. When I shed a tear for my girl, I prefer it in private. I have a few meltdowns a year where I really lose it. The rest is simply a tear shed when I see a child her age, stumble upon something of Allie's that I might have forgotten about, or when I hear her song while sitting in my office listening to the radio. If I need to cry, I call Debbie to let it all out. That's what best friends are for, right? She stood beside me the night Allie died, helped me picked out my outfit to where to my daughter's funeral, and held me many times when I cried. I'm comfortable shedding a tear in front of her.
At Camp Discovery every year, I choke up and let out a good cry. Tuesday during "Happy Nappy" is our yearly tradition of a Remembrance Ceremony. It's out at the lake. We read a list of names of those campers that past away since the last camp. There is a candle with each of those children's picture on it and a poem on the back. We are invited to write a note or jot down our thoughts privately. All of these are deposited into a container and then thrown into the fire to start our bonfire. It ends with a balloon release. This is the one time I allow myself to let go in front of others. I don't just silently cry. I tend to sob. I find a corner where I'm not in front of the children, sit back and have a good cry. The hard part is that I struggle to compose myself afterwards to prepare for our sessions the rest of the day. I'm strongly considering NOT going to the Remembrance Ceremony this year.
So you see, I don't like public tears. It bothers me, burns my face, and agitates me more. In four years, I've cried in front of my mother only once. It was the day before Mother's Day about a year ago, and I was extremely upset. Andrew finally got the phone and asked if I wanted him to phone Deb. Instead, I asked for my mom.
It was a different experience for me when I let loose on my tears at the lakehouse Monday night. I cried in front of everyone. And trust me, I didn't like it. Spurred on by alcohol, exhaustion, and watching all the children playing, I let myself get upset that Allie was not there with us. Maggie was the only one there without a sibling, and trust me, I noticed it all weekend. But then, I felt conflicted guilt about that sadness too. If it weren't for Allie's illness and death in the first place, I wouldn't be friends with those women. It would still be my group of two--me and Deb. Allie is what brought me together with Tracey, Amy, Jen, and Megan. And I'm incredibly grateful to her for that.
At first, I sat on the couch silently crying. Others were out at the pool and a few of us were waiting inside to get our little ones finally asleep. I sat crying for about ten minutes before Deb noticed. Andrew had walked in, everyone else had stepped out, and I started to cry harder in front of them. Before I could stop it, all the girls were around me. And I was bawling. And unfortunately, I didn't handle the situation well. Instead, I pushed past their well meaning hugs and looks of love, and told them I didn't want to talk about it. I hid in my room.
Like a good friend, Deb followed me in. She didn't push, but she gently told me that I was not handling myself well. I needed to return with my friends. I needed to let them see that I do in fact cry for Allie, and understand that they love me and support me. When I composed myself and went back outside, no one pushed. We didn't bring up the subject again, just me meekly apologizing to Amy the next morning for my actions.
I woke up the next morning embarassed by my meltdown. The girls, of course, were supportive and loving as all get out, but it was very difficult for me. I don't know that it would ever be easy for me to let my tears flow in front of others without feeling a burning anger and frustration and wanting it all to stop. I don't know that I will ever be able to truly tell my feelings to multiple people at once and feel comfortable with it .
But I'm working on it. And luckily, I have good people in my life to help me with the process.