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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/books/entry_id/394509-The-Greatest-Gift-of-All
Rated: 13+ · Book · Community · #1031057
My thoughts on everything from albacore tuna to zebras
#394509 added January 20, 2006 at 8:41pm
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The Greatest Gift of All

         I was sitting, eating lunch, and thinking about what I should write for my blog today. It is Christmas Eve, so naturally I’m sure, in some unwritten blog rulebook somewhere, it states on Christmas Eve and on Christmas you must write about the joys of Christmas. I have no doubt of this because the entire month here at WC has been a prelude to these two days. Just look around at the contests and other interactive postings; they all seem to have a Christmas or holiday theme. There is nothing wrong with this. It is as it should be. But I simply could not come up with anything to follow this directive. I fear I may be getting Christmased out, a not uncommon malady of these commercial times. And then I remembered something that happened to me this month. It happened not once, but twice and I thought, here, here, was my Christmas Eve topic.

         Twice this month I received reviews of two of my short stories and both of these reviews started the same way:

         “This was a very nice story, but you made me cry. I’m a middle aged man and men aren’t suppose to cry…” I’m paraphrasing of course, but I’m sure you get the idea. I have a standard response to reviews where readers tell me that my story has elicited a response on an emotional level, whether it’s crying or laughing or otherwise.

         “Thank you for reading my story. No greater compliment can you pay me, the writer, than to let me know that what I wrote made you (inset emotion here)”

         And that is what I did with both those reviews. I wrote it. I said it. It is truly how I feel and this is why.

         When I gave up writing at the approximate age of 18 I also gave up something else; my ability to feel. It didn’t happen all at once. I built that wall slowly. But I built it expertly. In time, when I was exposed to others in misery or pain, I did not react on an emotional level. I acted with robotic calm. Not one tear was shed. Not one ounce of compassion was felt. Over the years I was called cruel, unfeeling and a number of other monikers I’d just as soon forget. I went through my life, feeling sorry for only one person, myself.

         Now, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t kick dogs or make little children cry. Well...I didn't kick dogs. For all intent and purpose, on the outside, I was a perfectly average person. I would hold the door for the person coming after me. I would help carry groceries. I respected my elders, but I did so with robotic accuracy and no feeling. The one thing I most certainly never did, was cry. I am a man. Men don’t cry.

         A little over 17 years ago, I met my wife. Her first impression of me (voiced to her friends) was that I was obnoxious. I plead guilty as charged. My friends told me that she was, and I quote, “ a stuck up feminist bitch.” Stuck up? No. Feminist? If you mean does she think she can do anything a man can do. Guilty as charged. And she can, too. Bitch? No way. Our relationship grew. And it wasn’t long before I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. Even then, I still guarded a good number of my feelings behind my wall.

         I can tell you the moment the first piece of mortar loosened on that wall. It was the day of our wedding, when I saw her for the first time in her wedding gown; a more beautiful sight will never ever be seen by these eyes. Of that I am sure. We’ve been married for 15 years now and I wouldn’t trade a moment of it for anything.

         Now you might think that from the title of this piece that the greatest gift that I’m referring to is her love. Make no mistake, Love is a great gift and very difficult to surpass, but in my case, in my walled in, non-emotional life, my darling wife managed to do just that. It took time, lots of time and lots of patience. Slowly, with the skill of a surgeon, she removed that hard won wall of mine, until one day, going about our routine, I happened to look at her, really look at her, and then it happened. A single tear traced a path across my cheek. It wasn’t a tear of sadness. It had several components. It was a tear of love, of joy, of happiness. It was a tear that started in my chest, in my heart. It was a tear that had waited almost thirty years to occur. My lovely wife had given me back the ability to cry, the ability to feel, and that my friends, is the greatest gift of all.

         Postscript: Yes, I’m a middle-aged man and I’m crying right now.

         Merry Christmas!

© Copyright 2006 Rasputin (UN: joeumholtz at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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