Last week, I was preparing for an SSI hearing for a child client.  I thought he was attending Head Start, as he is only 4 years old, but I found out at my pre-hearing meeting with his mom on Wednesday that he is actually in public school kindergarten.  AAAHHH!!  I quickly sent off a request to his school to try to get his education records, which are ESSENTIAL for any child’s SSI hearing.

On Thursday night, while working late to organize all the exhibits, I got an email from my client’s teacher.  She wrote, “I can have the records ready for you tomorrow if you want to come and pick them up.”  She wrote this at 9:30 pm.  I cried.

But why?  Did I cry because I was happy to be able to get necessary evidence for the hearing on Monday?  No – I cried because there is someone in the world who cares so much about this little boy that a) she is working at 9:30 at night, after a whole day as a Special Education teacher, and b) she is willing to go out of her way to get the records ready for me ASAP.  Since I spend a lot of time in my job begging for records from schools and doctors who take their sweet time in producing them, it was a miracle to have this teacher make it so easy, especially with a last-minute request.

My work often makes me cry.  I don’t cry when I lose a case – I get angry.  I represent people whom I truly believe meet the legal definition of disability, but the evidence isn’t always as clear as I would like.  I’m always looking for what I call “the hook” – that one unassailable nugget of information that means the judge cannot deny the client’s claim.  So when I find, deep in the pediatrician’s notes, evidence that a 10-year-old still has episodes of incontinence, I am elated!  But I am also so relieved that I often start to cry.

I watched a video about a cat taking care of some ducklings and I cried.  Not sure why.  Maybe because the cat didn’t notice any difference between her kittens and these duck babies.  She knew only that they all needed mothering, so that’s what she did.

When I came home from a recent hospital stay, my husband gave me a pair of earrings to show me how happy he was that I was feeling better.  I cried at the thought of him going into the little boutique and spending time looking at different earrings until he chose the perfect pair for me.

My nephew is getting married in December.  I have 5 wonderful nephews, all of whom I adore, but something about THIS ONE makes me cry.  During his bar mitzvah service, the rabbi leaned over and asked him, “Who is that poor woman sobbing in the 3rd row?”  It was me.  When I went to his fiancée’s bridal shower in September, however, he wasn’t going to be there, so I didn’t expect to cry.  But someone had made a sign with all the significant dates in the bride and groom’s relationship, including the date they first started dating, 8 years ago.  As my mother used to say, “That did me in.”

Lots of movies make me cry, but some more than others.  I cried at the end of “Lars and the Real Girl,” because I was devastated by the implication that everything would be all right for Lars, now that he had found a human girlfriend (as opposed to the life-sized doll with whom he had had a relationship for most of the movie).  I have known so many people with mental illness for whom the happy ending seemed to have arrived, only to have it fade away.  For some reason, this movie’s ending brought them all to the surface and I cried at the cruel illusion the movie perpetrated.

I also sobbed watching Karl Malden whipping Marlon Brando in “One-Eyed Jacks,” when I was a teenager.  Poor Marlon.  He didn’t deserve to be whipped.

Many books make me weep.  “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” my all-time favorite book from childhood, which I read every year, always provides a really good cry.

My husband and I enjoy crying at the end of “Undercover Boss,” a TV show in which the owner of the company observes employees while pretending to be a trainee, and then rewards the good ones with promotions and vacations and money to send their kids to college.  Although a cynical part of me knows that it is pocket change for the boss when he buys the struggling employee a car, the sappy part of me usually wins out and the tears flow.

When one of my sons recently called to tell me that he had been in a head-on collision and WALKED AWAY, I waited until I got off the phone and then cried my eyes out.  Relief, gratitude and overwhelming love were all mixed together for that one.

I think crying can be a wonderful cathartic experience.  It cleanses the soul, gets rid of emotional detritus, and gives us a chance to start over.  It is a unique way of expressing deep emotion, a physical release that we can’t suppress.  It can be contagious – watching someone else cry often makes me cry.  It fascinates me and I embrace my ability to cry, because I know not everyone can.  What makes you cry?

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