I have an extreme dislike to crying. I don’t like to cry and I avoid any situation that will make me cry. It’s fine if others cry, and I’m okay helping others work through their feelings. However, for myself, I rarely give myself the opportunity to cry. Not going to do it. I have experienced plenty, too many, of reality’s losses, malice, and hardships that I prefer to surround myself with optimism, kindness, and triumphs. While I try to avoid sad encounters, I am realistic that life will present us with challenges that will not always result in success. While I try to evade menacing individuals, I am aware these meetings, although difficult to maneuver, will lead to the experience of another perspective. While I scorn adversity, I thrive on the adrenaline of competition. Tell me I cannot do it, and I’ll tell you differently or why. This has been for as long as I can remember. I hated to cry as a young girl and escaped into books for a happier experience. Life is unfair and this is not bad.
This stirs up a fitting memory of my childhood. During the school holidays and back in Mexico, my older sister and I would at times stay with Abuelita Eva in Ciudad Juárez while our mother continued working, traveling back and forth the US/Mexico border. Often Abuelita would treat us to a movie at the old Cine Victoria en el Centro Histórico de Cd. Juárez, which I later learned was the home of Benito Juárez, first indigenous national to serve as presidente de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos. Anyhow, I enjoyed our cinema outings choosing to watch one of three film series, Cantinflas, El Ocho (Herbie the Love Bug), and Capulina. All my favorites because they were fun, funny, and they didn’t make me cry, I laughed!
In contrast, back in the states I was first invited to a movie theatre to watch the latest Disney film. Excited at the opportunity to experience a brand new, high-tech US theatre I did not pay much attention to the title of the film, Walt Disney’s Bambi. ¡Hijole! What a depressing, heartbreaking, tearjerker! Since that day, I declared that I would never, ever, see another Disney movie in my life. And I haven’t. I haven’t even taken my children to Walt Disney movies. Not only because of the oath made so many years ago, but also because my partner and I are determined to be a media-free household. Definitely not my favorites because they are sad, tragic, and make me cry. And I don’t like to cry!
On to books and reading, a different story? Not quite. I don’t usually pick up sad titles, but on occasion I do feel a ‘real’ experience is needed. There has been one book, in my entire reading career, which has made me cry. One. Suspicious titles that give an inkling of sadness and tears do not make it off the shelf easily. I choose books to experience and to discover everything possible, almost anything, except for crying. So when Thelma Reyna sent me her latest literary work, I’ll be honest, I was reluctant to read it. The Heavens Weep for Us and Other Stories is a collection of twelve short, yet painful, stories. Could I possibly review stories that I would not normally read? Is it possible to set aside tough emotions in order to give an honest critique? Yes, and this is why.
The Heavens Weep for Us and Other Stories by Thelma T. Reyna is a collection of twelve short stories dealing with life. An honest, real, and motivational collection of short stories that deals with life’s unfairness and the human ability to overcome or renounce. Readers can relate with each of the stories whose characters struggle through losses and uncertainties. Some struggles more difficult than others, some characters better able to overcome, and others easily surrendering to the pain. Not a terribly difficult collection to read, however certainly a meditative one.
Loneliness is part of life, however we are not here alone and it is our task to make solitude a willful state of being. It does not happen to us, it comes from us. Reyna deals with this state in her first story, White Van, in which a young, professional woman suddenly notices a fellow neighbor, an older gentleman, which captures her curiosity. Each week day on her way to work she sees him, alone and pensive, in his front yard. He is in the same clothing, same position, and with the same expression on his face. Loneliness is her thought, however not a deep thought, a passing thought. At each pass on her way to work she simply notices, yet never motivated to do anything. Not even once he is gone.
Life has an awesome curve ball. It can throw them with such exactitude that they always catch us off guard. And when you have settled into a comfortably nice lifestyle these curve balls can be and are very upsetting. Reyna’s awareness of these curve balls is precise and writes of the human reaction to such shocks. Her stories, Little Box and Marry Me, have the element of attempting to reinvent oneself after a significant life change or after a loss, while trying to seem the same. Perceptions are different, lies invented, others hurt, only because the delicate transition of reinvention is just that, delicate. We are not here alone.
“Each of us in our respective places, each of us where we belong.” The thought of crossing over to another experience whether it is a social, cultural, economic, or other crossover is a sensitive maneuver in life. We are sure to fumble at our first attempt, yet can’t explore the other without a first endeavor. So many of us decide it is not worth the risk and deny ourselves of such crossover experiences. In Reyna’s story KeiKei & Ollie, she is able to give the reader an excellent representation of an uncommon, yet special, crossover using pets. A young, chic Siamese cat and an old dog, used to teach us about societal norms and the necessity to challenge ourselves to experience the other.
Finally, in Saving Up, Reyna beautifully sums up the various and diverse life experiences that humans live through. It is then up to us to take each experience and gather the treasures within each. ”Our memories crowd us sometimes. Too many memories sometimes. Too sharp, or too fuzzy sometimes.” However, each memory is a treasure, that is, if we choose to see it as a treasure. It is in our will to value each experience, grow with each experience, and remember to share the experience with others.
These are but a handful of the real life experiences that The Heavens Weep For Us values and shares with its readers. Well worth the reading. Well worth the memories.
Disclosure: I received a review copy of The Heavens Weep for Us and Other Stories from the author, however did not receive any type of compensation for its review.
By Thelma T. Reyna
Outskirts Press, Inc.
Trade Paperback, 166 pages, $14.95