Smile up front

Growing up, my parents always encouraged us, by example and word, to let it out, so to speak. Happy, angry, sad, excited. All emotions were welcome. Admittedly, sometimes those expressions got out of hand (read: teenage Lainey), but I never felt suppressed.

I can’t pinpoint when that changed. For some time now, when approached with a difficult or sad situation, I project this stoic, cold, and unfeeling persona. Tears are suppressed when they need to flow the most. Sadness is shown as anger. Troubling times are shadowed by small talk. It’s a smoke and mirrors act.

I hate that I do this. I hate that I’m so afraid of making my loved ones worry about me, that I push down even the most expected reactions. I hate that I’m so fucked up.

A year ago today was one of my worst offenses. I knew Nanny didn’t have much more time. She had been declining for months, and was completely without speech. We went to see her on the way home after my cousin’s wedding. Took her for a walk on the grounds; sat and talked to her about the wedding in the gazebo; Told her how well Bob was doing in school; Showed her pictures of the wedding on the iPad. The nursing staff told us it was time for her to eat. So we brought her to the dining table and sat a little while with her.

I was devastated. I knew in my bones this was the last time I would see my Nanny. But I kept the tears in. I put on a smile, chatting away like nothing, when all I wanted to do was curl up on the bed next to her and sob. To let her know how much I love her. To ask her to stay. To tell her it was ok to go.

I said goodbye and got up to leave. I looked back at the table and she was looking at me. I waved and said “Bye Nanny. I love you.” And she kept looking. And I turned and walked away.

I didn’t want those tears to leak out. Because if they did, they never would have stopped.

8 thoughts on “Smile up front

  1. I think your smile up front was completely appropriate. If I was Nanny I would have enjoyed what you did so much more than if you had paid me a sad visit. I am sure she needed exactly what you gave her. Sometimes smoke and mirrors are best.

  2. Definitely NOT something to beat yourself up over — the heart knows! Yours knows how much she loved you and vice versa. The irony is that she may have been doing the same thing, knowing her time was winding down and wanting to be strong for you. Maybe she was holding back tears knowing it would be the last time she would spend with you and unable to speak what was in her heart. Now you wanna talk guilt … imagine me with my sister and a priest in ICU with our Dad while the priest was giving the last rights … now imagine me breaking into a fit of hysterical [make that HYSTERICAL] stress laughter and running out of the room. Even I can laugh at it now [sane laughter] and can fully imagine my Dad rolling his eyes and shaking his head at me if he could. Let it gooooooo!! I’m sure that’s what your Nanny would want. {HUGS} #TALU

  3. This post is beautiful and I think so true for so many of us “grown ups” who feel like we have to hold it in, make everything appear okay on the outside, when the “kid” in us wants to do just what you said–crawl up next to Nanny and sob. We think we have to be so controlled and then people will think we have it all together. So twisted, but I am the same way. Because, like you, once I start crying, I can’t stop. So hard to watch the ones we love age and eventually leave us. Hugs to you. Thanks for sharing your heart. Visiting from TALU.

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