When Children & Tulips Make You Cry

A Morning of Tears at Tamper

Judy Chen
Judy Chen
Jun 22, 2018 · 3 min read

It was spring but March was still accepting snow. It was cold. I was in Tamper for the first time in almost a year. On each table was a small glass of water with a thing of tulip. I sat with a notebook and a pen, and failed to remember the last time I was in a coffee shop without my computer, without “work.” With my left hand wrapped around a warm glass of coffee, my right hand making grateful scribbles in my notebook, I wrote — how grateful I am to take this time to myself.

The typical Saturday crowd filed in. Some people doing work on laptops. Some friends gathered for brunch. A dad in a suit and his small daughter popped in for a quick cup of coffee and a small snack. A family of three entered — a mother and her two children, a boy and a girl. They have a lovely brown complexion with curly hair and she, a white mom, was in yoga pants. The mom ordered a cup of coffee, the girl had a hot chocolate, and the boy, a glass of orange juice. They sat under the window light.

And suddenly, I started crying.

This was all too beautiful and blue, I thought. I looked at the tender yellow tulips and cried even harder.

It had been a week of tears — the day before, Saturday morning, I cried when my friend from the other side of the country left. Friday afternoon, I cried in the Chapel with Priya because I’d been feeling weak and out of tune with my mind and body. Wednesday morning in Eaton, tears leaked from my eyes as I read the first messages I exchanged with a friend 13 years my elder when I was in the 7th grade. Tuesday evening in bed, I cried listening to an audio recording of the same friend sharing with me his very first love, a woman who took him years to forget.

I could have blamed it all on PMS but there was something about the children that touched a tender spot. Perhaps it was the fact that it’s been so long since I was so little. To suddenly be struck by an disorientation in time — that I am no longer a little girl, that we were halfway through the semester, that Chile seemed like a dream that almost no longer belonged to me, that there are still versions of myself I want to to be and love that I want to learn to give — and looking at this family, asking myself — how can I love and give more?

I thought of all people that I loved, the people that I love — like the ones I cried for and with. I thought of who I was when I did the loving — and how the loving makes you a different person, or at least, a different version. It’s not just being loved that transforms you. It’s the loving. The sight of the mother and her children filled my heart with tender love, but also a sharp reminder of the time that has passed since love seemed like the easiest and most natural thing that I kept falling into. A sharp reminder of the time and attention that it takes to learn to love and give.

I looked at the two kids and thought, I want to keep my heart young with laughter and love.


Thank you so much for reading + sharing your thoughts. You can find more of me on Instagram, at my poetry blog, and at my website. Want my articles in your inbox? — subscribe here.

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