Tuesday, November 5, 2013

PDE: Public Display of Emotion

Describe the last time you were surprised by the intensity of a feeling you had about something, or were surprised at how strongly you reacted to something you thought wouldn't be a big deal.

Well, I did not anticipate I would write about this.  But, it was the first thing that popped into my mind when I read the prompt so, here goes.

While I am an emotional person, I tend to do most of my emoting in private.  Just ask my husband.  I rarely show sadness, anger, or frustration around anyone but him.  In fact, the only emotions I show freely in public are usually ones like happiness and joy.  I do not mean to censor myself this way, it just seems safer somehow.

Early last month, my aunt passed away.

She had always lived in the same small town as my family, along with my grandmother.  Because I was so much younger than my siblings, and there were not a lot of neighbor kids where we lived, my grandmother, my aunt, and I became sort of like the 3 Amigos.  We went everywhere together.  They were a staple at my school events, I was a staple at their ladies groups.  They were more than just my family, they were my friends.  And like any friendship, it changed over the years, as I grew up, and my focus shifted.  When I was in my mid-20s, my grandmother passed away.  I was heartbroken, and ever since I have found myself missing her, but I always had a piece of her in my aunt.  When my aunt danced with me at my wedding, it was almost as if my grandmother were dancing with us as well.


My aunt's recent passing was sudden and unexpected, so everyone has really struggled.  During the funeral planning, I was asked to do a reading for the funeral mass.  I used to do church readings frequently, and am pretty comfortable with public speaking, so I immediately said yes.  We traveled home for the viewing, and then stayed overnight so we could attend the funeral.

I got up that morning feeling calm.  I looked over my reading so that I would feel comfortable.  I donned my black dress, put my hair in a conservative updo, did my makeup, slipped on my heels, and was ready.  We went to the funeral home first, then on to the church for the funeral mass.  It came time for me to get up to read.  I walked to the podium.  I looked at the words.  I opened my mouth.  And I wept.  In front of everyone.

There was no hint or clue that I was going to react this way.  I am normally cool, calm, and collected.  But the feelings simply became too much.  I was grieving the loss of my aunt, as well as my grandmother.  The loss of my childhood friends.  I was grieving for my parents, who would miss my aunt so much.  I was grieving for her children and her grandchildren.  For her friends, her church, her community.

I eventually made it through the reading, though I am not sure anyone really heard a word of it.  It was as if every loss from the last 10 years hit me all at once.  All of those emotions that I hold so close to the vest were on public display.  I was not ashamed or embarrassed, I did not feel weak, and I did not regret it.  It was honest, it was real, it was powerful, and it was love.

NaBloPoMo November