There are few times when I’m unable to find the funny in life, especially after a Wal-Mart excursion. But I haven’t shopped there since last quarter, so no adventures to share.
For years I believed there were no situations where levity couldn’t be found. The laugh or silliness might be hidden at first glance, but if you paid close attention, it's there.
Like when my first grandfather passed away (just stay with me), I was an adolescent, so of course his death hit me like a defensive linebacker. Plus, I was a teenaged theater geek, self-absorbed and a drama queen when things were going my way. Throw in some real life tragedy…look out! I was a disaster. Sad.
After he took his last breath, I cried uncontrollably beside his hospital bed. Family members slowly left the room when they felt ready. I, however, needed to be the last one to leave.
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It’s more dramatic.
Right after I left his room, I turned back to sneak one last memory. There on the hospital rollout tray, parked next to the door, was a medium-sized, clear milk glass – however, the milk was gone. Instead, someone had rinsed out the glass, filled it with water to soak his full set of dentures. His floating smile, complete with aligned uppers and lowers, were showing me his personality one last time. I left the hospital crying and laughing simultaneously; and now that I think back, I was lucky to not have been snatched up by a mental ward worker.
Twenty-six years later, another personal loss kicked the wind out of me. My hubby and I drove to the hospital for my scheduled inducement of our first child. I waddled in with a big belly, my overnight bag and a huge smile. That smile didn’t last very long.
Unfortunately, I was sent home the next day with that same bag, a death certificate, plus a sky blue, satin covered box — and no baby in my arms. The pain of losing a child is the most crippling, life-changing event that happens to a family.
When we got home, I entered my baby girl’s perfectly decorated room. I sat in the new rocker I had received at our baby shower only a month before. Opening the beautiful box provided by the maternity ward, I lifted out my daughter’s pink blanket she had worn. I placed it on my lap. I pulled out hospital bracelets that had been cut off of both of us, then a handful of certificates.
Underneath was an actual plaster of paris molding of my daughters feet. Not an imprint on a piece of paper, but a 3-D sculpture of her actual feet. Once again I was beside myself, sobbing and grabbing for tissues. It wasn’t until I looked closer at the box of foot art, that I noticed there were two sculptures of the same foot.
The nurse must have made a mistake because I was missing one. What I had was literally two left feet. Not two right ones because that wouldn’t have been funny. I screamed out laughing and told someone, “That no daughter of mine wouldn't be able to dance!” I had found the funny again in the darkness; but of course it never helped or healed my loss at the time.
Last week a dear friend of mine, who I met eight years prior at a writer’s conference, announced on Facebook that her freshman in college daughter had suffered a serious stroke, and was in critical condition. I, and hundreds of writer friends, family and strangers prayed as hard as we could to heal my friend's beautiful and previously healthy daughter.
On the day the 45th president was sworn in to office, we found out that the young, first-year nursing student had no brain activity and the hospital had been keeping her alive until that could be proven.
How can this happen? She was fit and vibrant! She was so young!
All my past memories flooded back and the broken heart I had for my friend, who first convinced me that I should write and publish, was pushed off the ledge into hell in one split second.
I haven’t found anything funny about that entire day. There was, however, one speck of light sparkling before all that mourned — this kind, nurturing and selfless nursing student was an organ donor.
This 19-year-old wanted to save lives when she grew up. Prematurely, she was living her dream of being a nurse. What a difference she would make in the world by selflessly donating her organs.
Still nothing funny, but it at least brings a slight smile when I think of how giving she was and of the four lives she saved just this week.
Stacey Hatton writes every 2nd and 4th week of the month. She can be reached at LaughingWithKids@yahoo.com.