Onion-skinned

Onion-skinned

 

I did not cry.  My mother left me with my father, taking all my joy with her.  I did not cry.  My father was lifted up in the air on a private plane, strapped to a hospital bed.  I did not cry.  He told me he was coming home with my dollhouse, the one that had a green roof.  The dollhouse came.  He came in a casket.  I did not cry.  And then my mother took me back, saying: “forget your dollhouse, your miniature piano, everything you have known for three years, even the red dress with the blue strings” I walked away without a backward glance.  We kept moving homes.  The pink ruffled curtains and the framed pictures stayed the same.  But the windows and walls kept changing.   Each time, I packed my bags and shed no tears. I kept losing fathers. They came. They left. Just when I learned to be a daughter, I would lose them. I did not cry.  Couldn’t.  There was too little time. I would see their heartache, their questioning, pleading, pained eyes, why are you letting me go? I had no answers.  Could not even cry. Stoic. Layers of leaving and loss had shrouded my tears, catching it, never to fall as drops. I appeared parched and cold-hearted, like an embattled soldier wearing his iron mask, a shield on his heart.

 

Perhaps, when one befriends loss, one shuns tears. I had become a lover of leaving.  Everybody left. Suitcases.  Boxes.  My life could fit into them.  I held no bonds: no attachment to things; no fondness for people. I had layered myself with impenetrable pieces; my heart had turned to stone. And so, I never cried.

 

Years later, I would try to squeeze teardrops out of the throbbing pain in my chest.  I remember when a friend had an accident at 12.  We trooped to the chapel.  As we prayed, each classmate shed a tear, every drop, crystal proof that they cared. It was difficult.  Pretending to cry. Wrestling with emotions that would not feel. When I had to leave school at 14, my friends held a party for me.  They all cried.  I stood there.  Stoic.  Waiting for my proof of pain- a deluge of salt laden tears.  Please let me cry.  But there was no rainfall, not even a drizzle. My friends threw pitiful glances at me, the White Witch, the Ice Queen, beautiful and bold. She turned everything to stone. It was winter all the time. I embraced the cold, and along with it, grief. Friends who left, friends I had to leave.  They were all the same. They could not see through my dry eyes.  Without the glistening, sparkling tears, you could have seen through them. I did not cry.

 

But.  Weep I did.  Weeping for a mother who left me with two old people who knew no laughter or games; grieving for a father I could no longer remember but for the dollhouse with the green shutters; lamenting each father I had loved and lost, and mourning the pain of each man who carried me and my mother home, until we had to move again. Look through me.  Forget the tears.  They would obscure your vision.  My eyes will tell you my secret.

 

I do not cry.  Yet I weep.

 

Tears flow forth, the earth holds me again! -Goethe

3 Comments

  1. Joyce

    As someone whose father left even before his eldest daughter was born and who remarried three times, I think I know the kind of hurt you carried throughout your childhood. I also developed the same shield and defense mechanism. My friends are awed at my seeming inability to shed tears. It takes so much to make me cry, and when i do, always in private. But unlike you, I tried to mask this perpetual feeling of aloneness and fear with a jolly personality and a ready boisterous laughter. I tried so much to be the opposite of my mother, who embraced loneliness and quiet. I thought that if I didn’t look and act like her, I would not be as lonely as I knew she was.

    1. oysteronahalfshell

      I had to read your first sentence twice just to make sure you weren’t writing about me. 🙂 Yes, somehow we try so hard to not look and act like our mothers. A different life makes a sort of cloak, hoping we’re protected from their same life path or hurts. And yes the way to hide the tears is to be like you said, jolly and fun. Thank you for your comment. We all have our stories to tell 🙂

      1. Joyce

        Haha! The first sentence, yes. I actually got confused on how I should structure it such that the Someone (who is the Eldest Daughter) is not accused of having remarried three times coz she didn’t haha

        I’ve been following your blog for a few months now and I’m enjoying it. First time to comment though.

        Keep those posts coming!

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