When I was younger, I thought that boys and grown men
shouldn't cry, much less show that they can be reduced
to tears. The tears were signs of being weak and a sissy,
which a man isn't supposed to be, supposedly.
This was even reinforced in my young mind when the
Cure came out with the song, Boys Don't Cry, in the
But just this last June, I discovered that courage
isn't all about trying to keep all the pain inside in
check. Courage isn't all about trying to hide the tears.
It's the opposite -- the tears reinforce the heart's
courage. And I saw this in my father.
My 18-year old sister eloped and with it, I saw how
vulnerable my father's heart was. My siblings and I
were used to seeing him as an imposing figure and
an iron-willed, authoritarian father.
For three days after my sister eloped, he wouldn't
talk. He would just sit quietly outside our house in
the dark. On the fourth night, I sat beside him and
asked him to tell me what he feels about everything.
It has been years since I have laid my hand on my
father's shoulder as we have drifted farther and
farther apart while I was growing up. That night
though, I sensed my father trying to control his pain
and I wanted him to be able to let it out. We have
all cried over what happened except him. All of us
The simple touch and my words, "Dad, it's not your
fault" broke my father's dam. In the darkness, he
began to cry. I felt his shoulders shaking as he
whispered, "Where did I go wrong? All I ever wanted
was for my children to grow up right. Why couldn't
your sister wait?"
I understood then why he preferred to be in the dark.
By being there, he hoped to spare his family of a
father's pain. His tears, though we didn't see them
before that night, were there all the same.
I saw his courage, that night when my father cried with
my hand on his shoulder, and understood his pain.