Friday, July 1, 2016

The Reason For My Tears...

I (almost) never, ever cry in public. It would take a lot to make me do so and it's not because I'm heartless. It's just that, I think, it's a combination of my sense of control, sense of privacy, as well as the fact that it simply takes a special trigger to let the tears knock down that gate of control. 

When I left the Philippines this time around, ending our 17-day visit early this month, I was so sure I wouldn't cry. The first time I visited in 2008 after migrating to the United States, I was 'weak', a new mom, in need of much support and missing my family so much, that letting the tears flow freely was inevitable. It was the time when I was able to finally say my proper goodbyes since I left so unexpectedly in 2004 and never got the chance to do the proper rituals that somehow ease one's transition from the familiar to the unknown.  

This time though, I felt less emotional about the thought of visiting. Prior to arriving in Manila, all I could think about was my prayer that none of us get sick, especially not Noah. I was too stressed over packing everything we needed and might need, as well as trying to fit as many meet-ups with friends and family as I could in our schedule while factoring in the unpredictable Manila traffic. I made up my mind that this was going to be a fun and matter-of-fact visit. There's definitely no need for tears. After all, I already felt established in my life as an American citizen, seem well-adjusted and really can't complain about much.

Of course you know that I was proven wrong and still ended up quite emotional in the end. Seeing my dearest friends, some I've not seen for about 20 years, reminded me once more of the sense of camaraderie and familiarity I've so missed all these years. Bonding with family in Manila only highlighted for me the fact that I am, in all honesty, alone here in the States. Sure, I have a husband and in-laws who are beyond supportive and genuinely caring. But let's tell it like it is. It's still different from having my own blood relatives who have known me all my life, isn't it? It just is. 

When I said my goodbyes, especially to my parents, my sister, and my aunt and uncle (who are like second parents to me), I cried. As I hugged them, I felt the warmth of the tears soak my eyes. As I said my goodbyes, my voice broke as I struggled to keep the tears in, to no avail. It didn't matter. What I felt was too much to contain or be embarrassed about. 

But what exactly did I feel? I have been thinking about the reason why I consistently cry with this same set of people every time I bid them goodbye. Why them? Why always with them? 

I remember that one other time when I felt the same way was when I bid my (ex) fiance goodbye. We had a long distance relationship and met up to spend five days together in Manila. At the end of that short week, I had to muster all the strength I had to walk away from him as he took his ride to the airport. Remembering that time helped me figure out the answer to my question when it comes to saying goodbye to my family...

The fact is, I cry because saying goodbye to these people spells out the uncertainty that looms over our love. Guarantees or promises set in stone to say when we'll meet again are impossible to make. We only have plans and hopes, and we all know Life doesn't bow down to either. I can't help but feel a part of me die every time that sense of uncertainty surfaces as I hold my loved ones close and say, "I'll see you again".

I cry because leaving them always signals the end of a wonderful, love-filled period of my life. It means the end of beautiful moments actually lived and the beginning of when I am left to settle with just fragile memories.

I cry because the time spent is never enough and is always prematurely cut short. It's grief over more hours, days or weeks pregnant with beautiful possibilities but must now be surrendered to goodbyes.

I cry because to say goodbye to them is to part with someone who truly knows me, inside out, and loves me unconditionally. These are people who know me soulfully. 

I cry because to say goodbye to them is to say goodbye to someone who will always hold my heart. And for this, 'home' can never just be in one place alone. It is both painful and beautiful at the same time, making every tear drop worthwhile. 


  1. This is so moving, Joy. It must be hard to be so far away but, your souls are always close. Many of us have family we can see more easily than you see yours but, we don't. I wonder if distance makes us closer emotionally. Can't answer that one.

    1. That's a very interesting point, Barbara. Perhaps it's really about not taking anything for granted. It is hard for me. But I have learnt to live this life. It just becomes doubly hard when the sense of alienation gets awakened time and again, but I'm sure I'll find my way back. Thank you, my friend. xoxo Have a fun 4th of July!

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Well said Joy, I cry every time I leave my mum and dads place back home. It's leaving my childhood home and that nurturing I get from my mum. I love the feeling of my children running through the house I ran through at their age. The memories burn and the heart yearns for what was, and what could have been if we just had more time. Just as you said.

  3. It's funny how we 'regress' into children once more every time we go back home to our Moms. But it's true that we never stop being our parents' children. Thanks Sarah xoxo


Let me know your thoughts!