5. Strong Men Don’t Cry


I use to look at a man crying as weak.  It would take something major to get a tear out of me.  I had hardened myself for some stupid reason.  That all changed when we lost Brad.  I was about to learn so much about crying.  There were different types of crying: some were easier than others, some last longer, and some even left a headache behind.  Though there were many tearful moments in the 24 hours after losing Brad, there are three times that I remember the most: when I took him out of the room for the last time, calling the funeral home, and when we left the hospital the next morning.

Taking him out of the room, I felt, was my duty as a father. The normal procedure was to call the nurse after our final goodbyes and she would come take him away. I did not want that. I wanted Sarah to see him leave with me. I would escort him to wherever he was going.  It instinctually felt so important. I was able to hold it together as I exited the room. Sarah needed to see me strong, that was my thinking anyway. I took him to the newborn room, gave him back to the nurses, and exited.  As I approached our room, I crumbled. I found a hidden area in the hallway, went there quickly, and sobbed. I could not let anyone hear me, but I was so loud.  I was not use to this. This was not just crying; it was a flood of emotions out of my soul carried by my tears and gasps for breath. I got it together and went back in the room.

The next morning, I had to call the funeral home to set up the cremation. I was good until the lady on the other end of the phone asked me how she could help me. She did nothing wrong, but I was not prepared. How do I say that my child died and I now need him cremated?  I felt an emotional gut punch. It struck me, and like any gut punch, breathing is not exactly simple. The words were hard to say over my gasps, but somehow, I got through it. That was the hardest phone call I ever made.

It was time to leave the hospital. Just like the last two moments, I did not see it coming. As we were driving out of the parking lot, I glanced up at the rearview mirror. For some reason, I felt like I was leaving him behind. Sarah asked me what was wrong as I began to cry. I explained the thought I had, and now we were both sobbing. I mean, what other way would you imagine leaving the hospital after that? 

Crying became normal after a while. It was a daily occurrence for the first couple of months. I remember the first day I made it without crying; it was bittersweet. I cried again the next day. I finally started measuring the days without crying as personal records. Slowly I made it a week, then a month. That was around one year later.  Through the first few months, Sarah and I often told each when we cried. If it happened sometime in the day, we would tell each other that night. We would talk about what triggered it, how long it lasted, where we were. That was ours, something we both had. Though one thing always confused us. We never would breakdown at the same time. When I was good, she was breaking down, and vice versa. We kind of liked it that way. It helped. She would often send a text asking me to come home and hold her, or just walk up to me and be crying with her arms extended out. We always had at least one of us strong.

Months later, there was a day that we were both home, doing different things. I felt the tears coming, I went straight to the front porch. I did not want to trigger Sarah. I cried for a few minutes, and then my phone dinged. It was a text from Sarah. She was asking me to come hold her. That was an immediate indication that something had caused her to start crying too. Finally, we had broken down at the exact same time.

I am not sure why I feel the need to write these moments down. They are hard memories to think about, but I do not want them forgotten. I have learned that when something bad happens, you try to find something positive to take away from it. Sometimes it can be impossible, but if you just try, you may find something. Sarah and I liked it that we never broke down at the same time, but when it happened we felt a sense of relief. It was a small sign that things were going to change for the better. It felt like we were finishing one chapter and starting another.



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