Growing up, Casey and I were constantly fighting. We were the typical pair of sisters; I followed her around throughout the years, and she made sure to give me bruises along the way.
Casey taught me how to fish, to climb trees, to make peanut butter sandwiches. She taught me to be tough and she taught me to never let people see me cry. When the boys teased me in 4th grade she told me that as long as I didn’t cry, I win. After we rolled the four-wheeler in 8th grade, she told me that no matter what my pain, I mustn’t cry. She told me to suck it up, hold my head high, and act like nothing had happened.
During my freshman year of high school and Casey’s junior year of college, our grandpa became suddenly ill. After being poked and prodded by a half dozen different doctors, we found out that he would need a triple bypass.
We arrived at the hospital three hours after our grandpa came out of surgery–30 minutes before we could see him. When it was finally visiting time, my sisters and I were escorted into the ward by a nurse. Seeing my grandpa laying in a hospital gown, breathing from tubes, unable to reach the tissues on his bedside table, forced a rush of emotions through my body. I desperately wanted to collapse right there, to lay down next to him and cry, but I held my composure.
Casey had taught me early on that I needed to be tough, but as I looked up at her, she seemed to be fighting the same emotions that I was. When we left, Casey and I stood alone in the hallway. We didn’t talk; we didn’t have to. “It’s okay to cry,” she told me. And I did.
That was the day I learned that it is okay to cry. I believe that my tears are the words that my heart cannot express. Washington Irving said it best by saying: “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief, deep contrition, and unspeakable love.” (Washington Irving) This I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.