When I was little, my older cousins and sister would tease me. Just normal kid-teasing stuff. And I remember crying. Crying like the worst thing in the world happened. And even though I said “stop!”, no one listened and they would continue to get their jollies at my expense.
I distinctly remember standing in my grandmother’s kitchen. I was six years old maybe. Anyway, I went in there to cry and she was so caring and loving. She always had an apron on. Always cooking. Always cleaning.
She told me: “Don’t let it bother you. Don’t let them see you cry. If they see you cry they will know it bothers you and keep doing it.” Basically telling me to buck up.
I never understood that. If they see me crying, they will do it more?? Won’t they know I’m hurt and cease to continue? Nope. So I would try so hard to stop crying. Wipe my tears and boogies away and go back out there. And that burning feeling in your throat…you get it when you’re really sad and you want to cry…It started. And then you just can’t hold back anymore. And the tears…the tears they just burst out. Shoot out. Not even streaming tears. The tears that burst out when you try to hold your eyes open so that you just won’t cry.
I remember the crying in my grandmother’s kitchen. And even now, when I cry, it’s that type of cry. The cry of “I’m hurt. I’m scared. Please stop. Please do something to make it better.” Yet it never gets better. I have to tolerate the pain, no matter what it is…until it just stops. Or dulls or until something else makes me cry.
It is difficult to go through life feeling this way. Feeling every emotion so raw and amplified. Even the littlest things that you, dear reader, may not lose one wink of sleep over, may leave me emotionally crippled for weeks. Months. Years? I’m working on it though, but it’s an uphill battle which is not easy to overcome.
The reason why I named this post after my grandmother is even today…when I get that burning sensation inside…when I know I will just crumble in a pile of tears at any moment….I think of her. Her words, nearly 30 years later…they stay with me. “Don’t let it bother you. Don’t let them see you cry.”
And then when I do inevitably cry I feel like I am letting her down. I’m really sorry Grandma, I’m trying. I really am. And I think wherever you are…you know that. I hope you do. I also hope that one day, I can control these feelings and make you proud of me. I know you had dreams for me, and the rest of your grandchildren. I don’t want to disappoint you.
My grandmother was pretty hip and would travel a lot. San Francisco, Reno, Vegas…and she would send postcards. I still have three postcards and I have them framed. It is her, clearly writing to a child, but every time I read them … guess what? I cry. Cry because I know I’m not the brave girl she wanted me to be.
I wrote this nearly a month ago, thinking I would change or add something. And I just don’t want to. I’m going to let it be. It is the truth.
I love you Grandma. And Miss you always. Happy Birthday!
PS. I wanted to add that my grandmother died when I was in 2nd grade, mere months before I was to make my First Communion. I’m in my 30s now, so that gives you an idea of how long I have lived without her. She has never been in one dream of mine. All I have are the memories, and those postcards, to help me feel closer to her. It’s been a long time, and yes I’ve missed her all these years. Thank you for reading!