My younger brother is dying. It’s a tragedy. The idea that in mere months he will be gone forever in months at the age of 65 doesn’t seem real. It is certainly not ‘fair’. He’s fit, had no major illnesses. Suddenly he’s a victim of anaplastic thyroid cancer, with no hope it seems of any medical remedy. It’s sad, it’s unfair, it’s sudden, he’s a good person, it’s shocking. Why don’t I cry?Can I cry? I admit it’s rare for me, especially in public. But I cry at my own inabilities to get simple things done, at personal frustrations. I tear up when long-time losing sports teams win (like the Richmond Tigers, the Western Bulldogs, Leicester), when organisations and people I’m associated with (basketball teams I’ve coached, my children and grandchildren) are successful, when women succeed against the odds, when major events occur.
Am I embarrassed? The ‘boys and men don’t cry’ drilled into me when I was a child is deeply ingrained, but I’ve just shown how easily I tear up or cry at the oddest events that have little to do with me, that have little personal impact on me.
Am I just a simple person without a large range of emotions? People have sometimes said (and no doubt often thought) that I’m too serious, that I can’t horse around, make a fool of myself. I’ve never been an actor’s bootlace – I can’t remember the lines, I don’t want to pretend I’m someone else. It takes me ages before I will dance at a dance, even when I actually want to (because I don’t want to make a fool of myself).
Is it because I’m an extreme rationalist…and so is he? We are both strong supporters of voluntary euthanasia. This is his ‘life’. There’s nothing we can do about it but plan to use his remaining time to best effect.
Am I heartless? Some people would probably say ‘Yes’, as my extreme rationality dominates my external responses to tragedies of all types. But those who know me well know I’m extremely emotional, irrational, on the inside. I tear up in speeches I give for organisations and people I care about. So why not now?
I’ve never felt more like I should cry, needed to cry, needed to be seen to be crying…but I don’t, can’t, won’t (at least on the outside…I’m definitely crying on the inside, but no one can see that). Instead, I carry this heavy burden of an unwanted coming monumental tragic event in my life, de-motivating my own future, my normal sense of fun, my normal enjoyment of life.
It doesn’t feel like Christmas to me this year. If only I could cry, publically, perhaps I’d feel better…