I Cried Last Night for All the Ways My Life Veers Off Course

I cried last night.

I was preparing a picture collage for my aunt’s 90th birthday, and while this is a cause for celebration, I cried while creating this masterpiece for what it represented beyond simply a milestone birthday.

The pictures did not include images of me but represented the adult life of my aunt as I remember it. Beautiful pictures, some black and white, some with a person’s head chopped out of the frame, some with family members who are no longer with us. This is what opened the flood gates.

Spread out before me, I saw my aunt, one of my mother’s older sisters, with her family at varying stages of their life. I saw my cousins, both as children and in their young adulthood, eventually as parents themselves. In those faces I saw innocence and hope, and yes, sadness at what life was meant to hold for them but how it was altered, out of their control. It made me wonder how their lives might have been different.

So, I cried.

I loved seeing the pictures of my aunt’s family. (Photo credit: Jackie Tricolli)

The tears started slowly and then became a steady stream

The tears started gently but soon became a steady stream as one thought lead to another. I cried for my cousins who lost their father when they were only in high school, forcing them to prematurely become the men of the household.

Then I cried because I remembered my own boys almost losing their father in high school. I envisioned what their life would have been like had that happened. Instead, they were left to deal with The Big Ugly a few short years later.

The tears didn’t stop.

I cried for the way our lives didn’t unfold as planned

I cried for the continued guilt I feel as their mom for leaving their father and shattering our belief in what a family is supposed to be. Forever changed. For the pain they had to live with because I could no longer endure my own pain, for the reality they now have to face as part of a broken family, for not protecting them enough.

Then I cried some more.

I cried for my father, forever estranged from his brother, a man who was too short sighted to realize the loss of someone truly loyal in my dad. I cried for all the dreams families have that go unfulfilled, expectations that fall short, disappointment in choices made.

I cried for my mother who lost her friend to Alzheimers

Then I cried for my mother who lost her dearest childhood friend this week to Alzheimer’s, the cruel disease that steals people’s dignity. Although, it was a blessing that she no longer suffered, it was still a loss, albeit one that was a long time coming.

Yes, I cried. Not big, ugly tears but tired, worn-out tears, of someone who has cried hard before. Tears on repeat to Neil Diamond’s I am…I said. I dare you not to cry when it plays. I cried for both my parents who I don’t see often enough but think of everyday. My tears fell because I feel I have disappointed them with my life choices. I know they understand as we collectively sigh in relief for the solo life I chose. Still, I cried.

I cried for my siblings who are the only two people who will have the longest shared memories with me, even if we see those memories from different angles on occasion. How I wish we were kids again.

I cried for friendships that have gone dormant, for the friends I’ve lost because of The Big Ugly. I’ll never understand why they gave up on me, left me, couldn’t stand by my side when I needed them.

I just kept crying the worn out cry of someone who has shed a lot of tears

I cried last night because I could. For the woman I just met who lost her son to an overdose the week prior, yet she courageously came to class because she didn’t know what else to do with herself. Her son was my son’s age. I cried for the woman who sat next to me, bravely reading her written words aloud, shocking us at the end when we realized the metaphorical piece was about her loss, a miscarriage.

My cathartic cry continued. I cried for all of the lonely people because lonely is a tough place to be. I cried because I wish I could make it better for them somehow. A little less lonely, perhaps.

I cried for all of my friends who lost their mothers and fathers ahead of me because that must be a pain almost too hard to bear. I cried for the person I could have been, but my friends remind me I can’t go back in time. They know I want another chance at love, at life. I will find it. I am making my way now.

But here I am, listening to Neil Diamond on repeat, a tribute to my dad. He too likes a good song, and a good cry.

Then I stopped. I stopped the tears and picked myself up by the proverbial bootstraps. Tears are cathartic, providing a good cleanse.

Today I will finish crying. Tomorrow I will stop crying and get on with living.

More Great Reading:

For Five Years I’ve Lain Awake at Night Exhausted from My Teens

About Jackie Tricolli

A conference coordinator, a middle school English teacher, and a stay-at-home mom. are a few of the life experiences Jackie Tricolli has had on her way to rediscovering her passion for writing. Currently she blogs personal insights and essays related to her experiences as the care-taker of two rambunctious boys and what it now means to be an empty-nester. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, she lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia where she revels in the changing seasons. Jackie’s insights can be found at www.scribingwithscout.com. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

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