One of the most important scenes for me in Torn Away is the one where Drew Duncan takes his nephew Cole to see his mother’s body. Up until that point, Cole who is only 8 years old is internally saying he can’t cry in front of anyone. His emotions have shut down, in part because he doesn’t want to feel what he needs to feel, and in part because of the abuse Cole has endured. But there’s another aspect, and that’s the underlying idea that boys don’t cry.
Cole’s entire life is in turmoil. He and his mother finally escape the man that
Most guys I know will tell you that they hate crying in front of anyone. We’re called sissy’s or wimps, made to question our manhood. We’re told man up. Because men don’t cry. Boys don’t cry. I was told that growing up. Big boys don’t cry.
But we do.
I cried when I lost my mom. I cried when I lost one of my best friends back in high school. Like almost any human being, I’ve been through some rough times. And I’ve cried.
In Torn Away, it takes this moment for Cole to see his uncle crying. As an adult male, it’s important to me to be able to tell younger men, it’s okay to cry. Sure, men tend to handle emotion differently than women, but there’s no reason why we can’t acknowledge that we have them, or that at times we cry.
Cole had to see his uncle, a man he’s just met and certainly hasn’t learned to trust yet, cry before he was able to believe that it’s okay to shed tears. As a grown adult male, it’s my place to tell the younger generation that we should be ashamed to be moved to tears. We don’t need to hide them like I was taught to do as a child.
Several seconds passed with Cole frozen, until he closed his eyes and nodded. In his mind, he counted to ten, slowly. He wouldn’t cry. Only babies cried. He wouldn’t cry in front of his uncle, in front of Ollie, in front of his partner or the doctor. He’d been weak too long and he wouldn’t be anymore.When he opened his eyes, Cole saw his mother.Kelli Duncan was lying on the table, with the blue sheet pulled up to her neck. Her skin was pale and her eyes were closed. Her blonde hair was flat and clean. He couldn’t see where the man had cut her, and Cole was grateful for that.Tentatively, he took a step forward. He searched for something that would allow him to say, “You’ve made a mistake. That’s not my mom.” But he knew it was. There was no hiding from it now.Cole wanted to say goodbye, wanted to tell her how much he loved her, but he couldn’t. Not here, in front of all of these people. Men had to be strong. He had to be strong. But he wasn’t strong enough to stay in this room any longer. He needed to leave, before he broke.Cole turned to tell his uncle he wanted to leave and nearly gasped. Uncle Drew, who had been a Marine, had fought bad guys with guns and who was strong and solid, was crying unashamed where everyone could see him.Finally, Cole was unable to fight the heaves of grief as he wept in his uncle’s arms.