19 April 2012

TV tears

I hate to admit it, but I cry at the television. A lump building up in my throat, my face feeling heavy, and my nose going all fizzy; these are my warning signs. It could be anything; a soap, a documentary... I've even been known to cry at the news. My eyes go pink, and I feel a tiny tear teetering on the edge of my lower lashes. Silently - oh, so silently, it falls, creating a ridge in my make-up where others might follow, leaving a short, sharp and rather pathetic splash as it hits my lap.

My Mum always cried at the television too. Something sad would come on the telly, often a sob story that connected with her life in some way and I'd glance over at Mum, watching as her eyes streamed but no sounds came out. It was always elegant crying, never anything too noisy or dramatic.  Although, I used to feel uncomfortable knowing she was upset and so would generally do one of two things. I'd shuffle about for a bit pretending I hadn't noticed, thinking that if I pretended I hadn't seen, I wouldn't have to think about why she was crying. Or I'd get cross, and point out the obvious, rolling my eyes and stating clearly; "Oh, Muuuuummm.... You're not crying again, are you?" Because then, more often than not, she'd wipe her face with the back of her hand, sniff and mutter quickly, "Course not!"

On Sunday, I watched the final part of the new drama series, Titanic. I should have known better (after all, we all know she sinks...) and true enough the final episode proved to be a sob story to challenge any other. As lovers clung to each other wading in crashing currents, fathers kissed their children goodbye forever and Italians got locked in third class cabins (yes... really), it wasn't long before I sensed that huge lump building in my throat. I pulled the blanket on our sofa tightly around me.  
It's only the television, don’t be silly. 
My lower lip wavered a bit. I pursed my lips together tightly to keep them in place, which only made my chin start to quiver. I watched as those poor people lost those they loved to the deep dark sea. I hung on every last word that was uttered when wives found out far too late, that they had been loved, without taking my eyes off the screen for a second.

I soaked it all in, and then sobbed it out. Tears streaming down my face, until I had a very soggy sleeve.

By the time the picture panned out from the lone lifeboats in the middle of the Atlantic and the credits began to roll, I'd forgotten I was in a small flat near Wimbledon with Liam sitting next to me. I was there, in the lifeboats with the women and children, waiting to be picked up.

"Are you crying?" Liam asked, teasing me. He put his hands on my shoulders, and turned me to face him to get a better look.

It was only as I went to reply instinctively: "Of course not!" just as Mum had, that I stopped myself.
I wasn't crying because it reflected anything particular in my life (I don’t have a husband, children, and have never even sailed on a ship). I was crying because it was sad.

"Yes. I am crying because the Titanic sank." I replied.

Suddenly it clicked, and I realised that I am just like my mother; an empathic - and very soppy - soul.


  1. Strange that you mention this, but I went to see the 3D version with my 16 year daughter last week. I actualy got a bit tearful because she used to watch it every week on DVD when I lived with her. If I was squeezing onto the sofa, I would say "room for a gentleman, gentlemen," like Billy Zane. She couldn't see the tears in the dark cinema.

  2. I firmly believe that empathy is one of the greater things separating us from the animal world. It is the heart of what it is to be human. I find this rather endearing...

  3. It's funny because I often feel concerned that I can't cry when I'm really moved even when I want to. Good post.

  4. Ah, that oh-so-familiar challenge from my children 'are you crying Mum?' because they know I will be - and not only at sad things. I cry at happy things too. Everyone knows I'll start sobbing in anticipation ten minutes before the end of the Railway Children and I cry every single year watching the London Marathon - something about all that effort and achievement, gets me every time.
    Philip's greatest concern is that he knows I can cry just looking at old men - he's worried that in 20 years time I'll look at him and burst out crying every single day...
    Lovely post.

  5. awww thats sweet....i cry at the tv but for all the wrong OMG what is this rubbish?? we are all heading to hell in a handbag with this terrible writing etc.
    actually i got a bit teary the other night as i listened to bbc world news...they had a re-enactment as such of the final hour of the titanic morse code communication...incredibly sad...
    anyway, great post!

  6. Dicky - Oh, I absolutely love Billy Zane in Titanic. Especially that line... you made me laugh! If it triggers memories like this, then I think the tears are allowed.

    Chantel - I agree with that too. Thank you.

    Happy Frog - I think perhaps some of us have more fluid tear ducts, that is all! As long as you're moved in the first place, that's what's important.

    Sharon - Oh, your comment did make me laugh! The Railway Children absolutely gets me every time. I watched the Marathon on Sunday, and I know exactly what you mean. Old men? Not so much... Haha! Poor Philip! Thanks for making me smile!

    Dan - Haha. Yes. an AWFUL lot of rubbish is on TV. That sounds amazing, I missed that one... BBC iPlayer, here I come... !