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.