A Sign of Strength

In my house, men are supposed to maintain a stiff upper lip in difficult times. Wet eyes were a sign of weakness.  However, it was OK to cheer for the athlete that shows a little emotion when he wins a major sporting event.  Wet eyes show that they genuinely care about what they are doing.  Tears during the national anthem of a medal ceremony are like a “perspiration of pride” from eyes that have seen the culmination of years of hard work.  To me, that is when it was acceptable for guys to show a little emotion.  After a brush with my mortality, I wear my emotions on my sleeve.  The celebrations are great and are easy to express my excitement, but in the same token it is much easier now to make my eyes water.  It confuses me.  Occasionally, stories of the heart that never would have affected me before my surgery now make me turn away, grab some tissues, and complain about my eyes watering from my “allergies.”  I’m still not comfortable with those “allergy attacks.”  I remember the first time it happened.  It was at my first lecture. I was telling a detailed account of what I was experiencing when I got my brain tumor diagnosis. “Are you serious?  Am I going to die?  I don’t want to die.  How could this have happened?” My eyes started to swell and a huge lump formed in my throat, making it difficult to exhale.  Soon, the short exhalations were converted into warm drops of salty water. Weird. A few years later, I was talking to an older Filipino lady who lost her daughter to a brain tumor.  She was telling me I was around the same age as her daughter.  Then she broke down in front of me.  All I kept thinking was that this grieving lady could have been my mom or one of my aunts right after my surgery.  Weird. Although, I’m still not comfortable expressing my emotions, those ”allergy attacks” prove that I’m strong enough to make it this far and that “Hey… I’m alive.” Now, my tears fuel my desire to “Kick mAss!”  My tears are not for me anymore.  I’ll Punch you in Da Face if I ever catch you laughing at me being emotional…