A Vehicle To Heal And A Celebration Of Life
Inspired by Medium Writer Agnes Louis
My family blessed me with the gift of humor and laughter. Laughing is how my family copes with difficult situations like grief and loss. It helps to relieve some of the pain, but most importantly it helped us celebrate the person’s life and the happy, humorous moments we’ve shared.
Grief and mourning can be crushing, it can literally suck the air out of the room and have a dizzying effect. At times, if it wasn’t for the laughter, I would have passed out from sadness. The loss was too much to bear.
At my beloved Grandmother’s funeral, my mother’s twin sister began to make this God awful moaning sound and started calling for my Grandmother. We tried to ignore it, but after a few seconds, my Mom clenched her teeth and said, “shut it and stop making that noise- she wasn’t just your mother”. The room got quiet and then we heard muffled laughter.
There were a few other Tyler Perry movie moments, like my son’s father squirming and cringing in his seat like a preschooler waiting for the potty because he was uncomfortable with people rubbing his back during the service. Or my favorite: When my mother kicked her heels off at the gravesite to make a bee-line to my grandfather’s car that was driven by his mistress. I wish I could make this up…
Needless to say, the sight of my tall, barefoot mother running through the cemetery yelling, “I’m going to kill her! You couldn’t let her have one last day”, followed by me waddle-running and scream-whispering, “Mommy nooooo, stop, please don’t kill her” was sad, yet hilarious. When my mother realized that my pregnant pudge was in hot pursuit, she stopped halfway and started crying. We returned to the burial site and our pastor quickly wrapped things up, giving us a scolding glare.
Shortly after I had my son, my Mother promised to come live with me for a year. I was now a new, single mother and I had just moved into a new home. She fell ill and passed the next year. Her service was held on an extremely hot day. Why my estranged father decided to come in a tight, eggplant-colored, crushed velvet suit, with a dark ruffled shirt reminiscent of Prince- I do not know, but every time I looked at him I heard Purple Rain…
When my Aunt’s cries started to sound like a whale song, I leaned over and whispered, “shut it, you know she would be pissed”, we held each other and silently laughed. This time, our pastor just shook his head.
Every year during the holidays we laugh in memorial of my Grandmother and my Mother. They both had a great sense of humor and painful illnesses so passing ended their suffering. We cry a little when we talk about their services — but they are mostly tears of laughter, relief and release.
I will never apologize for our laughter because it’s our family tradition and laughter helps us heal and cope with the pain. We laugh so we don’t lose it.
We do what we must to stay sane…