"Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts." - Charles Dickens
I am addicted to Call the Midwife on Netflix. Over the past four months, I have journeyed from episode 1 through season 7, transfixed by the births, deaths, and life trauma visited on its ever-changing cast members. Nearly every episode brings me to tears, and that's probably why I feel better after watching. The events of the past eleven months have so harrowed our souls that grief must line the folds of every organ, and yet we adults have few outlets for our sorrow. My Midwife - induced tears provide some relief for the pent-up angst.
Usually I turn my grief into rage, it's easier to manage and venting is more socially acceptable than weeping. The children don't want to catch me in tears, but they're accustomed to my frustration and anger, at least when it's directed at someone or something other than them. But they know to avoid me when I'm watching my show, and they pretend not to notice the used tissues on the floor or my faintly red eyes.
Expectations that 2021 would usher in more positive outlooks and events have certainly been adjusted, if not shattered, by the events of our over-long January. I daresay we're all exhausted. How can regular adults rally to perform our roles when even Saturday Night Live actors are "over it." The Atlantic's culture writer David Sims wrote on Sunday that "the show's first episode back after a chaotic six weeks in American politics was the equivalent of a giant shrug." (The Atlantic 1/31/21). The show makes its living on political turmoil, and even they can't rustle up the energy to duly comment on our times.
Health care workers and essential workers must experience this phenomenon ten-fold, working tirelessly and desperately to save people afflicted by the virus. Some of my tears are for them. Some are for our children, struggling to carry out each day's strange tasks in a time of masks, social isolation and hybrid school. Some for teachers and for older adults, some for political leaders around the world who strain to do the right thing. There are plenty of reasons to cry, if we can only allow ourselves the outlet. When my show ends after a cathartic fifty minutes, it's time to stop the waterworks and get on with life, but I know there's another episode tomorrow, a sacred time when I can allow my heart to soften and my tears to erase some of the blinding dust of our time.