Today I was watching Parenthood. It's one of those shows that's good enough to make the DVR rotation, but not so good that you feel an obligation to watch it quickly. Weekend DVR material, the kind of thing you leave on in the background while you sort the laundry. I have a weird affinity for ensemble family dramas. Anyway, about halfway through the show there's a scene where the autistic son of one couple invites the disabled son of another over. Both parents are excited, there's an exchange of information, and the mother of the disabled boy says something along the lines of "We're so glad he has a friend. He's never had a friend before." I couldn't say exactly why, but for some reason this line made me cry.
I virtually never used to cry. I long ago mastered the male ethos of keeping it together, pushing the feelings down, and moving on to the next action item. It's not that hard once you get the hang of it really. The habit is much harder to pick back up once you've broken it though. I've had streaks of years without tears. Not anymore. I'm lucky if I hit hours now.
When something like this happens, you become more aware. You notice the thin lines and forced cheerfulness in a stranger's face when the word "cancer" slips off their tongue, always just casual enough that it won't end the conversation. You recognize the strain in their voice, and know that the "handling it well" that they're speaking of is really a polite euphemism for walking upright rather than falling to the ground and bawling their eyes out. I never noticed all that before, because I did not know. It's like I've been exposed to the vast sadness at the core of things, and cannot look past it to the facade. It's not a completely bad thing. I do more for people. I'm more empathetic. I'm probably a better person though frankly I could have done without the self-improvement.
So I find myself crying at inopportune moments, pausing between folding undershirts to cry at an actor's honestly not all that convincing delivery on a recorded television show. Like an idiot, I'm now journeying mentally through this fictional person and her lonely son's battle with spinal bifida. I am imparting far, far too much pathos to the scene. I'm drifting from stoic to that obnoxious person in the movie theater.
At the heart of it of course, is that I miss him. I miss his smile and his laugh. I miss his probing eyes and his little fingers wrapped around mine. I miss his smell, trapped, but fading, in the clothes resting idle in his drawers. I miss him all the time.
Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers.