I'm an ugly crier. I'm a full-on sobber, face wet and shoulders shaking, words incomprehensible and face scrunched tight. I watch series finales with a blanket over my head whenever possible, and I like my sad movies 3-D so I can use the glasses to hide my swollen, puffy eyes. I try to keep my crying secret, not only out of a need for privacy, but out of a desire that no one see me fall apart in such a thoroughly unsettling way.
Considering all this, it's not surprising that I've never attended Remembrance Day ceremonies since high school.
And, frankly, it's a terrible reason.
I think we, as humans, try to avoid sadness wherever possible. I mean, real, true, sadness, not Nicholas Sparks, credits-roll-and-it's-over sadness.Sadness can be difficult- what do you say, when someone's hurting? How do you comfort when there's no real comfort to be found? Words seem inefficient, and even the word "hug" seems too plush and squishy for the occasion. We're conditioned to "buck up" to "get on with it", to "look to the bright side", as soon as possible. Not only to better ourselves, it seems, but also to make it less awkward for everyone else.
But what more appropriate occasion for sadness than today? I cannot believe what it must be like to have an entire population pick up and leave, knowing that many will not return, and that those who do will be forever changed, forever marked by things you will never fully understand. I cannot comprehend what it must be like to bury your child, to allow them to leave you for places unsure, craving and dreading phone calls and letters, jumping at every knock at the door. I cannot imagine what it feels like to watch the country you love, the neighbourhood you've lived in all your life, reduced to rubble and bloodstains in the blink of an eye. I cannot believe, comprehend, or imagine. But I can grieve. And I can offer my ugly, sobbing, sadness.
While our nation is far from perfect, I recognize that living where I do, how I do, in the time I do, has afforded me the kind of luxurious safety and freedom that others can only dream of. And I'm aware that that safety and freedom does not come easy, and it does not come cheap. It comes at the expense of young men and women in lands far from home, of social justice defenders and their desire for a better world, of children and families huddled together in fear. I'll keep my feelings on war and the politics therein separate from today, only say that there is space in your heart for the victims of war as well as its soldiers. Our capacity for empathy is infinite, we can mourn and celebrate one thousand things without breaking. Human hearts are like Tardises - they can always store more than it appears they can.
So if you're a fellow ugly crier, go ahead, let it out, today's a perfect day to have a heavy heart and a dripping nose. And I'll do my best to join you next year. Because for all the beauty and talent and laughter we can produce, humans are still capable of incomprehensible evil and today is a grave reminder of that. But also cry for all the good that we can do, because I truly believe the good outnumbers the bad, most days. I have to.