I don’t like to cry. I know that may sound crazy to those who know me but I don’t. It’s very rare that I tear up and even more rare that I allow myself to become overcome by emotions. As an example, there’s a picture of me holding Eli for the first time by my bedside. In it you can clearly see that I was crying. Every time someone makes a joke about it, I cringe.
I just don’t like to cry.
It’s not a masculine thing. I don’t have some neanderthal like urge to prove I’m a man. I do a good enough job of leaving my underwear on the floor and expelling nauseous odors from all parts of my body to positively identify me as male. I just don’t like to cry. However, since our diagnosis, I find it harder and harder to keep my eyes from swimming in the seas of my emotions.
Over the years I’ve been able to resist the urge to cry because I have always lived in two worlds. The world I occupy physically and the world I rule inside my head. It’s a nice place. In it I make the rules and I am king. Best of all, it’s occupied by only me. Typically when things get tough, I retreat into the deep recesses of my mind and find solace. I throw on some headphones, take a moment to let tones and melodies carry me away into the cavern of my soul and in that place I wrestle with the issue. (as a side note, I am currently listening to Boyce Avenue. An artist a dear friend introduced me to in the last show I was in.)
The problem is, cancer doesn’t allow me to retreat. Cancer doesn’t allow me to check out. Cancer makes me cry.
Since our diagnosis, I find it harder and harder to keep my eyes from swimming in the seas of my emotions.
Over the past few weeks I have experienced such a wide range of feelings that it’s hard for me to unpack them at times. I have found myself more than once being overwhelmed by intense, gut level feelings. Take for instance when Andrea first told me she had cancer, I was siting on our couch in the little squarish space we call our living room. Suddenly my mind crashed. While my brain was trying to reset, my bride collapsed into my arms. For a brief moment everything stopped. The world ceased to exist and I was left in this blank space. It was jut a moment, a brief pause and then I was ripped back into the scene by the sobbing sounds of my wife and the warm tears, which were falling all over my body.
As I pulled my bride close, I lost it. I could hear her say over and over again that she didn’t want to die. I listened to her cry into the universe, begging for it to not take her away from our son. In that brief moment, as time passed by in a slow and tedious pace, I wept. The pain I felt was stronger than any feeling I have ever experienced. I found myself beginning to retreat into my mind. I was taken back to our wedding day. I saw the moment my bride said, “I do.” I could her her sweet voice. I could see her face smiling back at me as we declared to the world that we would forever do life together. Suddenly, the flood gates were opened and all I could do was pull her closer and pray that somehow my tears would bring her solace.
Since that moment I don’t like to be alone. It’s when I am alone, I can’t keep it in. Sometimes, when I walk down to our basement to work, I have to take a few deep breaths in order to keep it together. It’s even hard for me to drive alone now. Typically, I love to drive alone because it gives me a chance to think and decompress. Now, I find myself wanting to wear sunglasses so I can hide the tears.
The worst is when I am showering. I know, I know, many of you just became nauseated….it’s understandable. Anyways, for some reason, in those moments, in that space, while hot water is pouring all over my body, I cry. In that brief time and space, I am able to release all the emotions I keep bottled up inside. Somehow, I feel free to just let go. In many ways, showers are therapy for my soul. There is a cleansing factor to the quiet space between running water and heart. While I don’t like to cry, I’ve come to appreciate the tears.
I know many may be wondering, “but Joshua, the doctors have said she can be cured. Why would you still cry so much?” Allow me a moment to explain. The diagnoses of breast cancer has forced us in the past few weeks to make decisions that will affect us the rest of our lives. I have held my wife on multiple occasions as the doctors were once again asking us to make split decisions about her treatment, all while factoring in the gravity of the affects of chemotherapy on her body. I have watched her cry over decisions. I have watched her cry just stating she has cancer.
Seeing her cry, hurts my soul.
It’s in those moments I have to be strong. I must be a rock for my bride. It takes everything in my being to not cry. I don’t have the luxury of turning into a blubbering fool as the doctor’s explain the physical pain she will go through during treatment. I just don’t. My job is to be the one she can lean into. My calling , as her husband, is to hold her up when she can’t do it herself. So, I hold out as long as I can and then find a quite space to let go. For me, it’s the moments I am alone, in the basement, in the car and yes, even in the shower. While I don’t like to cry, I will. I know it’s healthy. I know it gives me a space to release the pain and sorrow I am experiencing. I also know that with every tear I cry, every moment alone, every time I step away to collect my thoughts, it’s just one more step closer to recovery, one more step closer to ridding Andrea’s body of Scruffy and one more step closer to the sea. #looktowardsthesea