Why We Cry

by John E. Miller and Rachelle Reese

May softly stroked her daughter’s head. “Comfy?”

“Yes.”

“Good. Now I want you to be a good girl and go to sleep for me.”

“Mommy, why do we cry?”

May stopped stroking her daughter’s hair for a moment. “Now what makes you ask a question like that, Lucy?”

“I don’t know. I was just wondering.”

May thought for a bit and slowly gave her answer. “Well, we have tear ducts that produce water from our eyes.”

“No, Mommy. Why do we cry?”

“Feelings?”

“Yes, what is that?”

May rolled her eyes, thinking. She looked down at her daughter. “Well now, that’s a hard one. We cry for a lot of reasons.”

“Like?”

May smiled, but kept the laugh within herself. “If I tell you, will you go to sleep?”

“I’ll try.”

“Alright,” she sighed. “I can work with that. Well, I remember when I first found out that I had you in my belly, I cried because I was scared, but then I cried because I was so happy.”

“I don’t understand. Why was I in your belly? Did you eat me?”

A small laugh escaped May’s lips. “You’re too young to understand yet. Let’s just say you were a cake that needed to be baked.”

“OK.”

May saw only confusion in her daughter’s little eyes. “Then you kicked me.” She pressed lightly on Lucy’s stomach and heard her giggle a bit. “And I knew that you were alive, and so I cried then. Well, then I gave birth to you.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You came out of the oven that was my belly.”

“Oh, now I get it. Big girl stuff. ”

“Yes, big girl stuff. I cried to see you coming into this world. A lot of people cried.”

“Why? ‘Cause I was born?”

May shrugged and looked to the ceiling, and then she looked lovingly back down. “Yes and no. To see you with that light brown hair, your red skin hitting the lights — and then you cried out with your first breath. You were really alive.”

“Why did I cry?”

“I don’t know. Maybe you didn’t want to leave the womb.”

“Womb?”

“Big girl stuff.”

Her daughter nodded solemnly. “Big girl stuff.”

May stroked her tiny hand. “I’m glad you understand.”

“So people cry when they’re happy?”

“And when they’re sad.” May ran her finger across her daughter’s cheek. “Remember when Granny Landerson died and how we cried for days?”

“I still cry sometimes.”

May thought she noticed tiny tears in her little girl’s eyes. “I know, honey. So do I.” She gave her a gentle hug. “People cry because they’re hurt too.  I remember when some little girl climbed up a tree she was not supposed to and fell and broke her arm.”

“I remember,” she said sheepishly.

May gave her daughter a stern look, stifling the laughter inside. “And how about the time when that mean old Jimmy from down the road called you names and you came running home crying?”

“I don’t like him. He’s just mean.”

“I don’t like him either.”

“So we cry for good and bad things?”

“Yes. You are a very smart young lady.”

“I love you, Mommy.”

“I love you too. But it’s getting late and you need your sleep.”

“Alright I will do that just for you.”

“That’s my girl.” May bent down and kissed the soft forehead, as she had every night for the past six years. Then she kissed each closed eye gently and stood watching her daughter’s head resting peacefully on the pillow. She felt a large hand rest on her shoulder.

“Mrs. Landerson,” a man’s voice said softly.

“Yes?”

“I’m sorry, but it is time to close the coffin.”

“One moment,” she said in a rough voice.

The man nodded and walked away.

May leaned over and kissed each eyelid one more time. She felt the tears well up in her own eyes and drop, one by one, onto the satin sheet. “These tears, Lucy, are those we cry when we lose the person we love the most.” She caught a tear on her finger and touched it to Lucy’s tiny lips. “Remember their flavor. The next time you taste my tears, I will be crying with joy.”

She turned away from the little coffin and walked past a picture window and out into the daylight alone.

Copyright (c) 2010 by John E. Miller and Rachelle Reese

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