Laugh or cry
Rhino lays on his belly atop the comforter, leafing his way through, until he encounters a headline that brings the chuckle
he shares his favourites
Recently opened Empire State Building ‘Giant Ape-Proof’, Say Architects
Women Get Vote, Rest Rooms
Carter to Congress: What’s Your 20, Good Buddy?
It’s a fun stage when your kid starts to get the jokes.
My Auntie would share with me just how much my Uncle loved Our Dumb Century.
I hear him all the time, chuckling away down there, even when he’s in the bathroom
When I remember him, it’s the chuckling that stands out.
He and Captain Flyswatter would sit together, apart from the crowd and cocktail noise. Cracking wise at every opportunity, inevitably punctuated by a wheezy, extended guffaw.
Our very own Statler and Waldorf, peas in a pod, yukking it up.
They must have been in their 50s at the time
That’s where I’m at now
I loved that role, wanted to be like them. Finding humour in the absurdity of it all. So I tried it on, making bad jokes, throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what would stick. Cracking (not-so) wise.
And soon, it was my turn to cackle, together with him.
Nobody gets my jokes
But he did.
Satire, I think, just was a fit for my uncle.
How else does anyone make sense of a world that can bring so much joy, and so much pain
A world where hardship lands indiscriminately
Laugh or cry
Ask any parent
What’s the worst thing in the world?
And topping their list, without a doubt
losing my child
Well, Dear Reader.
He lost two.
He was circumspect and reflective at his elder son’s funeral, unafraid to call out injustice, trying to make sense of it all. His elder and (to that point) surviving son, a grown man, finally giving in to cancer after the bravest of fights.
How could this happen twice
I stood, graveside, listening to last rites, my own boy snuggled in against my chest. And perhaps because he was there too, lost myself to grief. Tears, without end.
Two funerals for lost sons is, ultimately
two too many
I’m not here to raise existential questions
Those ones generally raise themselves
Here is what I know.
There is suffering in this world. For some, more so than others. It is uneven, arbitrary.
And, also, thank the universe,
I don’t know whether this offers consolation.
I know that losing two sons, suffering with cancer, then struggling to digest a meal near the end of it all
is, uh, a lot to deal with.
I know there were still moments of joy. His resilient daughter-in-law and vibrant grandchildren carrying the family legacy, jaunts to Loreto bringing sunshine and warmth.
My aunt, his forever partner, his rock, a saint who endured so much more than any soul deserves.
If sainthood were a thing, she’d be first on the list.
Determined, to the last.
She’s one of our heroes.
And, I miss him already.
Laugh or cry
His younger son’s funeral is foggier to me
But I do remember being caught in nervous energy
In the car, on the way to the cemetery, I was giggling uncontrollably, my cousin joining in the fun
I knew that somehow it wasn’t appropriate, didn’t befit the mood, but I just couldn’t reign it in.
What’s the right way to grieve?
And if we get extra practice does that make it any easier?
I wake up tonight with dreams so real that that they chase me.
I am home
There is a drawn out and tender hug
Peaches and Herb are there
Reunited and it feels so good
I hug them back.
And the dream, just like those who matter to me, holds me close
I wake sobbing, just a bit
Acutely aware of the tenderness of it all
Of how quickly it can pass
Surround yourself with good humans
Leave the place better than you found it
And keep breathing.
It’s a privilege, not a right
As I listen to my boy, giggling as he gets the joke
I hear my uncle’s gentle, joyful, wheezy laughter sneaking up the stairs for my Auntie to savour
Laugh or cry
if you don’t mind
Today I’ll be doing a bit of both