Want to Cry the Tears That Will Save Me
by Donald K. Sanders
I have been brought low by recent world events. It is about as low as I have ever been. It’s hard to explain but I can only equate it to a whirlpool that you are caught in and cannot escape.
The few times that I have been this low usually found me in the suicide ward of David Grant Hospital on Travis AFB. Unfortunately, due to overcrowding, there is little that they can do for the lost souls that go there for help.
David Grant Hospital, modern and up to date, can do little for me other than hand out medication and give me psychiatric care in a crowded classroom setting. So there I will sit, surrounded by those that are every bit as lost as I am.
Every time I go there I get violently sick. Uncontrolled vomiting and convulsions are what I have to look forward to. The doors, in and out, are locked. My wife, who is the light of my life, has to be escorted in and out.
I can sense when a visit to David Grant is looming in the near future, and I am sensing it now. I am reminded of a quote by Kahil Gibran that says, “He who has not looked on sorrow will never see Joy.” Sometimes, for me, even the joy swings low.
Chronic depression is something I have dealt with since I was 9 or 10 years old. At a very young age, I made an oath to myself never to cry. I kept this oath until I was well into my 40s.
Somewhere along the line, I lost the strength to keep my oath and I began crying. Now, in my 60s, I find that I cannot control it at all. It has a will of its own. Most of the time I can hide it by making excuses and quickly getting away from others who might see me. It is gut-wrenching, painful crying. It is not a whimpering sniffle but a convulsive, snot dripping, slobbering cry. So far, I can still control the wailing but it takes all that I still have left not to let it out.
Strangely enough, it is the suffering of others that brings this out in me. There is very little in my personal life that would make me cry. Thank God for that. The sight of those near me in a suffering state would surely do me in.
One would think that a guy like me would try to stay away from societal suffering but I find that I am drawn to it like a fly to a lightbulb. The last four or five days I have been glued to CNN and the quake of Japan and its following tsunami.
This event along with events in the Middle East have brought the world to its knees. It is sorrow on a global level. If we follow Kahil Gibran’s advice, we as a people, should experience uncontrollable joy very soon. I, through personal experience, cannot see this happening.
Eventually, my wife will take me south to see my grandchildren. This too will bring tears to my eyes, but these tears will be different. I find it funny that we as a people can have tears for joy and tears for sorrow. Observers are unable to distinguish the difference. Without outside additional information about the reasoning behind the tears, they are identical.
I have always thought crying to be unmanly. There is a famous saying that in essence states, “Don’t trust the man that cries, for he thinks only of himself.” When well thought out, this is true on a certain level. Either we are crying because someone has died or someone has been born, and even if something is lost. We don’t cry for death itself — that’s a natural part of life. We cry because we don’t have the person anymore and they’ve left us against our will. We cry about a child being born partly because of happiness and partly because we are worried about something happening to hurt the child.
As far as the earthquake in Japan, I am no longer shedding tears about that. The tears I shed now are for those who stand in lethal radiation, using the last of their life force to try to save a miniscule portion of the remaining life on this Earth. They know as they walk into the reactors that they are walking to their death. Surely this is worthy of my tears.
I cry for those who fight for their freedom in the Middle East. They too know that death is upon them and that evil forces are coming with a rage. I can bear no more. The sadness is upon me. I need to see my grandchildren so I can cry tears that will save me.
The tears of love.