Lesson 46: When someone cries, just hand them a tissue.

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“When Harry Met Sally” – Sally uses Harry’s sweater as a tissue during a famous crying jag.

I cried twice in public this past weekend – once Friday night at my nail salon, and again Saturday at a friend’s wedding. Both were for very different reasons, but at the core were definitely some related sadness that I think is always in there. All it seems to take is an event or feeling to scratch the exterior, and boom! The tears begin to flow.

For the record – I despise it. I hate feeling that exposed and vulnerable around strangers.

That said, I have absolutely no control over it. When the feelings surface, the tears automatically follow.

Friday was the result a particularly long day (and week) at work, followed by feeling like nothing I was trying to accomplish mattered. And Saturday I was at a friend’s beautiful and emotional wedding. The love and appreciation for what she and her new husband have found was overwhelming. As she took the floor with her very proud and loving dad for the Father-Daughter dance, I lost it. I just want to experience that so much… ok, just writing that makes me cry all over again. Dammit!

It’s one thing to let the waterworks flow in the privacy of your own home, but it’s embarrassing as hell to be all dressed up (mascara and all), or have your wet nails in the hands of a manicurist when the tears start to fall.

Luckily for me, both times I was touched by the kindness of the people around  me.

As hard as I tried to hide my nail salon tears, the women there noticed and quietly handed me a few tissues. I felt foolish, but appreciated the gesture. Their kindness from that moment on was beyond touching. And apparently it made my manicurist feel comfortable enough (or was it to make me feel less alone?) to share her own sadness about being so far away from her 3 kids back in Nepal. Soon HER own tears began to fall.

“Life is hard, yes?” she said, summing it all up.

As sad as it was, we made a human connection – one that is easier when we let our guards down. I left a 30% tip in thanks.

Upon noticing my waterworks at the wedding,  my handsome table mate simply used his napkin to wipe my tears away. No words were needed and I immediately felt cared for. Thank you, Ross.

In both these cases, I think the trigger was feeling alone, and the fear of always being so. Which is kind of interesting when I realize that my tears forced me to open up and connect with people who I otherwise would not have.

But it was also a reminder of the kindness that truly exists in this city – and in the world. That when faced with a stranger’s heartbreak, big or small, it’s the smallest gestures that often go the longest way.

When someone cries, no words are usually necessary (unless you’re the reason they’re crying.) But handing them a much-needed tissue says “I see you, and it’s ok.”

And please don’t use my sleeve.

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