I have many memories, as a teenager, of coming home in the evenings to find my youngest sister camped out on the living room couch, channel surfing for the most depressing show she could find.
Now, maybe she wasn't actively searching for melancholy featurettes, but I think the fact that she so often landed on those bits from St. Jude's speaks for itself. You know the ones I'm talking about: they featured the cutest little girl you've even seen in your entire life as she bravely endured needles and charmed you and anyone else watching, swimming in her child-size hospital gown (how depressing is it that they even have to make those things?) and grinning shyly into the camera right before the screen faded to black, followed by a photo of her captioned by the words "Sally McCutie, 1992-1997." Then you felt horribly betrayed because they made you fall in love with this tiny cancer patient in the space of six minutes only to reveal the devastating truth, followed by a plea for your help (at which point you're screaming, "TAKE MY MONEY!").
You know, those.
I don't know how many times I came across Stephanie watching those. I don't know if she was just a glutton for punishment, or her body was harboring excessive amounts of salt that needed to be drained via a torrent of tears every few days, or what. Sometimes I'd find myself sucked in by the darling children, and would seem to black out for several minutes before I'd come to and find Steph and I clutching each other and crying because the children. (And come to think of it, Stephanie was all of 10 when I left home, so she was just a child when she was watching these. What the heck, Steph?)
Since then, I've met all kinds of people that do this kind of thing; people that watch movies like Titanic and Beaches and The Green Mile even though they know it's going to end in a big old snot-fest. (I think everyone has a go-to cry movie. I think mine would be What Dreams May Come. Or Dumbo- the Mama elephant rocking baby Dumbo on her trunk through the bars of her prison- I have to stop, I'm going to cry right now. Or just that scene with Sean Penn screaming for his daughter in Mystic River. All elicit the ugly cry.)
I've always wondered about that penchant Stephanie had, though, for purposely watching things she knew would make her cry. I just could not understand it.
Until, gracious sakes, I found my own version of the St. Jude's commercials: the thing that will always make me weep but I just cannot seem to keep myself from watching.
You wanna know what it is? It's those dang videos of soldiers being reunited with their families. Oh, my land. Oh, my stars. Little kids, minding their own business in their elementary school classrooms until they look up and see their uniformed father standing at the door, where their little faces crumple and they run to their daddyTeenage girls running across soccer fields and football fields because their dad came home early and surprised them? I. can't. handle. it. And I know I can't handle it, but if one of those videos pops up while I'm otherwise minding my own business on the internet, I swear to you I am powerless to resist the force that drives my pointer to the "play" button. Oh, I can watch a video that will make tears and snot gush from my face and make me all puffy and scary looking? DON'T MIND IF I DO.