Could I have cried my last tear?

February 7, 2023


My other ex-husband died a few months ago.

I felt… nothing. Blank. Flat. Unemotional.

No reason for me to be so indifferent about it. He was a good man. He played a pivotal role in my life, not as husband or lover, but as someone who ‘grew me up’. Who showed me a world I hadn’t known before. Who exposed me to things I might have otherwise walked past. And concepts I hadn’t given deep thought to.

We go back more than three decades. And yet I couldn’t muster a tear.

Maybe I’ve run out of tears. Understandable, given all the loss I’ve experienced in the past couple of years. Is that it? I wonder.

The crazy thing about it is that I had a vibe that he had passed. Yes, sometimes I know things. And I knew this. Even though we were not in touch.

But he didn’t have an online presence and I wasn’t connected with anyone currently in his life. So I went to the Facebook page of someone who would know and started scrolling and scanning public posts. I’d done this once. a couple months ago, too, about the time he died. Same vibe. But then? Didn’t see anything.

But still, the vibe nagged. So I tried again.

It was not obvious. The mention of his death was buried in a comment. But there it was.

I stared at it.

I felt nothing.

I paged back in my memory to when we first met at work and the many hours we spent in his office, talking about life and Jungian psychology. To his introducing me to lattes. Not Starbucks but a coffee shop near our office. The crazy way he told me he was interested in me. Literally crazy. Thoughts of our many trips to Europe, especially the cooking course in Italy we took with friends.  I am the last surviving member of that foursome. They are all dead, now.

How is this possible?

last tear

Carmel, Calif.

I think about our living in Carmel and Pacific Grove. In Tampa. In San Jose. All the time we spent outdoors. Bicycling. Hiking. Exploring. Then driving the California coast. And across the country, listening to Jack Kerouac’s On the Road on tape, an entirely different experience than reading it, as we both had, years before.

Oh, and I can’t forget him and our cats. When BeeBoo died. And Cecily.  OMG,  I remember how he grew his hair really really long after early retirement and started skiing every week. He was a black diamond skier and he loved it. I loved the hair. AND he pierced his ear.

I remembered how kind he had been to my parents in their final illnesses. How gentle and considerate (and caring) he was with my father’s dementia. The laughs we shared and especially those  he and my mother shared during her very long hospital stays. They enjoyed each other. Thought back to her telling me “He’s not much to look at, but he’s really nice.” I remember his borrowing my brother-in-law’s dark coat for her funeral. I’ll never forget how he sobbed at this verse of the hymn “On Eagles Wings,” as my mother’s coffin was carried down the aisle of St. Ambrose Church:

And He will raise you up on eagles’ wings
Bear you on the breath of dawn
Make you to shine like the sun
And hold you in the palm of His hand

He rarely showed emotion. Besides her funeral, the only other time I saw him cry was at his youngest daughter’s death. It was heartbreaking.

After our divorce I recalled how weird it was that he ended up living across the street from me in Pacific Grove.

I remembered all those things and more.

I felt them.

And still, not a tear.

Do I dishonor him by not crying? I don’t mean to. There is nothing to dishonor.

Maybe I’m just out of tears.

And then…the night I wrote this, he appeared to me vividly in a dream. The feelings were warm and sweet. It was a visitation. And, felt like the postscript to this post.

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30 comments on “Could I have cried my last tear?
  1. James Felts says:

    Interesting how you dealt with this. Also, interesting that the funeral for your mom was at Saint Ambrose Church. My great grandfather is Ambrose Cassara. Any relationship? Jom

  2. Lauren says:

    I got chills reading this. He came to you in your dream. SO interesting you just knew. You may cry one day. Just not now and that’s OK.

  3. Laurie Stone says:

    Got goosebumps about the visitation. So much we don’t know.

  4. Jennifer says:

    What a lovely remembrance of a man who shared much of your life. But I think you’re right, you’re cried out for now, and there will be a point in the future when one small thing reminds you of him, and you’ll cry then.

  5. Lovely, engaging, and truthful piece. I think, in this day and age, when mass shootings have become the norm, and daily disasters drown out any joy we may be able to squeeze into a day, your reaction isn’t that strange. I think we’ve all become more desensitized day by day. I think many can empathize.

    • I feel a little numb. Of course, a dear friend passed in January and I cried a bucket. So maybe my allotment for this year is full. But yes, there is so much to grieve about our every day life you may be right that part of it is densitization.

  6. Alana says:

    I believe people can get desensitized to trauma if there is too much trauma in a short amount of time. At some point our emotions shut down. There was your good friend in January you are already mourning. As I recall, a dear friend of yours passed last year. And, of course, always lurking, there is the pandemic and the trauma it inflicted. There is also the current emotional state of our country. I think more of us are emotionally drained than we realize. You will cry when you are ready. Maybe it’s hidden deep inside you now, but those tears will come.

  7. Beth Havey says:

    Carol this is moving and touching in so many ways. If reflects your insight and your caring. I firmly believe we can feel these spirits leaving us.

  8. Jackie Langlois says:

    Thank you for sharing your feelings.
    I think many healthcare workers bury their emotions or push them way back to be able to get through the day and function in our role. All of these painful experiences, do tend to accumulate and one day it comes tumbling down!

    I presented Cumulative grief in Nurses and how we can deal with it years ago….

  9. My husband lost 3 of 6 sisters and 2 brothers in law in the span of 9 months. While we are devastated, sad, and grieving there have been no tears over the last 2. We are definitely teared out. I believe it is a thing. Our brains scientifically store traumatic information until we are ready to deal with it. The tears will come.
    My brother who was murdered actually gave me the name of one of his attackers (there were 7) in a dream and he also gave me the title of the book I was writing about him.
    When I was younger my Dad never let me leave the house without dimes in case I needed to make a phone call (imagine that) Now dimes are everywhere. I often smell his cigarette smoke while I’m writing. He was my biggest fan.

    • I wasn’t aware that’s how the brain works. And yes, a lot we don’t understand in this material world. So much gos on around us that we are unaware of but then all of a sudden, we are.

  10. Diane says:

    Oh, Carol, he sounds like he had so many wonderful qualities! I feel the veil is very thin at times. That those who have gone ‘beyond’ are very busy but can, at times, communicate. I’ve felt my Mom’s presence and I know Daddy appeared to me in a dream. Of course your ex would be thinking of you and your need for some closure—even if you don’t recognize it yourself! You will cry, dear. When you are ready…

  11. Meryl says:

    People grieve in different ways. Your thoughts about the man, your writings, your dream, your premonition about his death, all part of the process.

  12. I think that all the memories you had of him that you expressed in your post is your way of remembering and honoring him. They are better than tears.

  13. Rita says:

    My former husband died last year. We were divorced years ago because he was abusive. I tried to be a good mom and help my daughter write a nice obituary for him. However, when she wanted to show me the gravestone she had picked out for him, I just didn’t want to look at it.

    Right now three of my friends are on hospice care. I just realized that soon I’ll need to go to their memorial services.

    Several years ago, I lost one of my best friends ever and another close friend.

    I think these losses come with age.

    I’m trying to focus on the fact that I’m still alive, active, functioning, and making a difference.

  14. ME says:

    Bob was a good man…

  15. What a warm post full of good memories and respect. ♥

    I know those vibes because I get them too and often dread being right!

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