In 1951 Johnny Ray recorded a song that made him famous. The song was “Cry”, and the first line was “When your sweetheart sends a letter of goodbye, it’s no secret you’ll feel better if you cry.” Ray was known as an emotional singer and he often cried when he sang that song.
That song came to mind recently when our 22-year-old grandson we’ll call Sonny was told by a girl he loved that it was all over. He had been going with her, we’ll call her Sweetheart, for about two years. She was from Wisconsin and we had all met her when she came to visit.
Yes, there had been “come to meet the family” visits. We all loved her. She was attractive, serious about her studies, easy to get along with, smart, easy to talk to, had a good sense of humor, was charming and mature. And she had values. In short, other than being from Wisconsin, she was perfect. We all thought she was “a catch.”
Sweetheart and Sonny got along beautifully. There were no signs of discord. But one week, she indicated she had some doubts about their long-term relationship. A week later, she announced to Sonny that she thought they should call it off (it was like a sweetheart’s letter of goodbye). Sonny, of course, was totally surprised, and was devastated. We were all broken-hearted. Sonny may have known the reasons for the split, but the rest of us were in the dark. We hadn’t even had the one-week heads up.
I called Sonny, not to ask any questions or offer any advice, but simply to offer understanding and sympathy. I recited the line from Johnny Ray’s song about the possible need for a good cry. Sonny said the tears were already flowing and thanks for the family support.
Since then, we haven’t talked about it.
There is no doubt that some of life’s situations require tears. But where do tears come from? Unless they are squeezed out by wind or extreme cold, tears come from the heart and we all need them. If you’ve never shed tears or shed them only rarely, you may have a heart problem ̶ or your heart may be made of oak.
Some of the situations that require tears are situations of joy ̶ a birth, a birthday, a graduation, a wedding, an anniversary, a reunion, a reconciliation. If the tears come from those happy events could be analyzed they would undoubtedly have ingredients of sweetness.
On the other hand are the tears of grief ̶ the heartbreak of love lost, the grief of death, broken families, failure, ill health, guilty conscience and a multitude of other causes of heartbreak. If the grief tears could be analyzed, you could be sure they would be salty and bitter.
The tears that we trace back to the heart are bitterest when they relate to love. After all, the heart is where love lives. And grief is the price we pay for love because love in its essence is spiritual fire.
So, at the end of the day, Sonny has a broken heart. So do his mom and dad, brothers and sisters, grandpa and grandma. We loved Sweetheart, too. When somebody we love hurts, we all hurt. We are all crying a river. The pain won’t be forgotten, but we trust it will heal. Our tears will help.