I hate crying.
Let me get one thing straight – I am a very emotional human. I cry at films a lot, books quite a bit, and I find it hard to watch live music because it gives me such a profound kick in the feelings I cannot help but unleash the waterworks. But that is good crying, predictable crying. But there’s that other crying. The one you do when you’re sad or frustrated or angry, and I hate it. It gives me a headache. It makes my throat hurt and my voice wobble and my eyes go bloodshot. And it doesn’t help. Not me, anyway.
I’ve always seen crying as a sign of weakness. I know it isn’t, I know that people who cry aren’t weak, but for me that is what it signifies. And I have no idea where that stems from. This typically masculine thing of not letting myself cry, I don’t know when it became such a set thing in my mind, and now I find it really hard to get rid of it. Especially now, when I need to cry.
On Wednesday 5th October, my Grandad died. My stepdad Nige’s dad. He had been in hospital for five weeks and he had been really ill, every phone call I got during that time I expected to hear the news that he’d passed away. But then he started to recover, and he was meant to be coming home on the weekend. So it was a shock. My mum called me. She was in bits, and when she said Grandad had died my reaction was “fuck” and then I tried to calm her down, I was rational and practical “I’m coming over. I’ll go home now and get some stuff and you can pick me up. Take ten minutes and have some water and calm down. See you in a bit.” And I went back into the lounge where my dad and his mum were, and they looked at me.
“My Grandad’s dead.” My tears came like a punch in the lungs, all at once and for about ten seconds, and then I stopped. I was shaking. I went and splashed my face. I was fine. I was fine.
Mum picked me up. She had been crying, was still crying, and I got in the car and made silly jokes on the way to Grandma’s and swore and was generally daft, but there were no tears. And I got to Grandma’s and hugged her and she was crying and I went and saw my little brother Sam in the back room and he wasn’t crying so we sat together and ate McDonalds and didn’t cry together.
All through Wednesday, I held it together. I made endless cups of tea and coffee and kept conversations going and answered the phone and kept things normal. I had a bit of a cry when my sister came over after work, and so did Sam and Grandma and Nige. And when I bedded down on the sofa that night, I listened to an audiobook for hours. I think I slept a bit. And when I went to Nige’s flat the next day my brother Joe was there and we had a hug and didn’t cry.
I haven’t really cried at all.
But tonight, I’m writing something to read out at Grandad’s funeral on Thursday. And I’m going through memories and noting them down and I can feel a constant threat of tears on the edges of my eyes, and I’m tamping them down with deep breaths and hard swallows. I’m terrified about Thursday. I’m terrified because I haven’t let myself remember Grandad yet, haven’t let myself feel the fact that he’s gone, and as I’m typing these words my eyes are blurring with tears and the back of the roof of my mouth hurts because I miss him so fucking much it is painful, and I can’t actually deal with it I thought writing about it would help but it isn’t and now I don’t know how I’m supposed to be dealing with whatever it is that I’m feeling because writing was always my way out but maybe that’s why, I can’t escape reality with this one, this is just something that I have to deal with and I don’t know how to and I’m scared.
I’m going to go for a cigarette on the steps outside the front door and let myself be sad for a bit. I don’t do that. When I told my mate Josh, he said that I should let myself be sad. That I didn’t have to be strong for people. That I’m allowed to be sad as well. But I don’t do that. I’ll just have to work out how to, I guess.
Miss you, Grandad.