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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: River (08/31/06)

TITLE: River of Tears
By Shari Armstrong


“I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim;
I water my couch with my tears.” Psalms 6:6

“Lord, why does it have to hurt?” I startled myself with the sound of my own voice. I was hoarse from crying, and my nose stuffed. I punched at the damp pillow, trying to get comfortable. But, no matter what I did, sleep wouldn’t come.

I stared at the ceiling, seeing a streetlight shining on the wall out of the corner of my eye. A river of tears still streamed down my cheeks, only making my pillow damper. “I don’t want to cry anymore. But why can’t I stop?” I took a shuddering breath, slowing the stream a tiny bit.

”Why?” I asked for the umpteenth time. I made futile attempt at wiping the tears away. “Why am I even crying? I ran out of tears ages ago, there shouldn’t be any left.” I didn’t want to feel like this. I told myself I wasn’t going to do this.

Memories flooded my mind, causing the river of tears to overflow once again. Memories of child-hood hurts, of wondering what I did wrong. Memories of finally realizing I didn’t do anything wrong, finally accepting what couldn’t be changed.

But, did I give up too soon? Should I have tried to reach out more? Would it have done any good? The parade of what-if’s stomped through, causing more ripples of pain and regret. I got out of bed, tired of tossing and turning, and not wanting to wake my dear husband.

I tiptoed into our daughter’s room. I knelt beside her, brushing damp bangs out of her eyes, kissed her forehead. I whispered, “Don’t ever forget that Mama loves you. Daddy loves you, too.” I gave her another kiss.

A sleepy voice whispered back, “I love you, too.” I smiled slightly, knowing she wouldn’t even remember our conversation in the morning. But I also knew, that deep inside, she heard what I said and would remember when she needed to remember.

A few more tears fell, but now they weren’t quite as painful. The healing was beginning, but it was going to be a long journey. The stream slowed to a trickle. I went back to bed, still not able to sleep, but the tears had washed away some of the pain.

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This article has been read 1202 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Marilyn Schnepp 09/09/06
This reader is reading, wondering, and pondering. "What seems to be the problem here? Where is the pain? What is wrong with the lady? Why can't she sleep?"
But the writer gives no clues, no hints, no reasons - just rivers of tears. Perhaps it's hidden, but I can't find it. But thank you for posting your story about River of Tears.
Donna Haug09/09/06
I too wished there was some indication of what type of problem this lady was agonizing through. A touching scene when she kissed her daughter and whispered her love. Sweet.
Jan Ackerson 09/10/06
I like that you left this unspecified--that way we can inject our own experiences and feelings into her pain. I found this excellent, and the moment with the daughter especially poignant. My only quibble: the whole piece uses the "river" metaphor quite beautifully, then at one point we have a "parade" causing ripples. Sort of caused a bit of cognitive dissonance for a bit.

This could be an exemplar for "showing, not telling."
Joanne Sher 09/10/06
Such wonderful depth of emotion expressed here! A very realistic and poignant scene. Your description of her thought processes was so very authentic - I was right there with her! Thanks!
Donna Powers 09/10/06
What an accurate description you have painted of her pain, and many moms can relate to those sleepless, tear-filled nights. I also wish I had a clue about the source of her sadness, but this was very well done.
Jen Davis09/12/06
I understand the writer's sadness to be childhood hurts, but I have to wonder what triggered the flood of memories? Your use of metaphors is very nicely done. "I don't want to cry anymore." I said the same thing the last time I cried a river of tears.
Amy Michelle Wiley 09/12/06
Knowing the stories behind this entry make it a powerful story. (((hugs)))
Alexandra Wilkin09/13/06
My nana always used to say "tears wash everything clean". This was a very sweetly told memory. God bless. xx
Brenda Craig09/13/06
Shari, my heart goes out. This is beautiful, tender and healing. Wonderful job my friend!!!!
Joanne Malley09/13/06
I think any reader could relate to this type of pain. I don't know that the reason for the pain or type of pain is what matters in this piece. You focused on the "river" of tears and did the topic justice. Good Job. :)
Rita Garcia09/13/06
I too like the fact you didn't tell why, but instead gave a brilliant look at the way grief grips the heart.