Marriage Within Truth
We laughed a lot when we were brand-new
We laughed our way into a marriage
Marriage that began with a slew of in-jokes
Marriage that produced two laughing children
Children whose giggles were balm to our souls
Children whose chortles were our favorite music
Music that filled our little home with delight
Music that told us we were getting this right
Right and left up and down laughter everywhere
Right from the beginning laughter filled the air
Air carrying mirth everywhere we went
Air lighter and brighter for our merriment
Merriment we shared with every passerby
Merriment offered freely and given with glee
Glee that swelled and filled our lives
Glee that sustained us when sorrow came
Came to take from us our precious second son
Came to show us the even then we could laugh
Laugh at gallows humor when that’s all we had
Laugh even through the tears we shed
Shed the mourning shrouds to tend to the living
Shed the numbness of grief with the best medicine
Medicine that offered healing no anti-depressant could
Medicine that nurtured bright living for our surviving son
Son who gave us so much reason for joy
Son whose happiness became precious treasure
Treasure each breath and tiny toddler joke
Treasure the dimples the giggles the squeals and smiles
Smiles we found again when our daughter was conceived
Smiles we clutched when told she might not live to be born
Born into this family fractured and remade
Born heathy and strong and ready to embrace hilarity
Hilarity she brought from her earliest days
Hilarity that made us a new kind of whole
Whole arsenal of humor our family shares
Whole of our secret weapon against life’s cruel snares
Snares like cancer we never saw coming
Snares that snatched away that big laughing man
Man whose barrel chest produced such wondrous guffaws
Man who once kissed a fish to make his girl giggle
Giggle our way through more than twenty years
Giggle like crazed children until we were in tears
Tears flow now for all that’s been lost
Tears that season our laughter with new sorrows
Sorrows eased by the humor we find
Sorrows unshadowed by little jokes left behind
Behind this great loss is even greater truth
Behind this darkness is a long laughing light
Jim and I laughed. Before we were lovers, we were friends, and we laughed. Once we were dating, the hilarity escalated.
One night, I called from work because he was going to give me a ride home. We lived at the edge of the Grand Canyon then, and I worked with a woman he’d casually dated before we met, and who was sensitive about his moving on. When he picked up the phone, and gruffly said, “Yes?” (Jim hated the phone!), I responded, “It’s me.”
A pause. Then, “Mimi? I told you never to call me here.”
Part of the reason I married Jim were his jokes (mostly off color), and his ridiculously improbable stories.It was during the one about the pomegranate that rolled up the hill that I knew I wanted to be with this man forever. Here was a man who could be silly with me, and would. But, when life was serious, he’d take me that way, too.
It got serious in 2003, when our second child suffered a brain injury at birth. It was Jim who made me laugh the first time, as he was getting ready to bring me home from the hospital where three-day-old Elijah was lying in a coma in the NICU. His joke was wildly inappropriate – but it fit a situation for which we had no rules, and I clung to it until life offered something better to laugh about.
Even when he was diagnosed, he still found things for us to laugh about. “Most of my life, I’ve worried about my weight,” he said. “But now I’ve got a magic wand. The weight just comes off!” He joked about his terminal cancer as a “free pass” to eat and do what he wanted, because there weren’t going to be any repercussions worse than death.
His last joke came about a week before he died. I’d helped him with a shower I knew would be the last one, even though I don’t think he realized that he’d be bedbound from that point forward. He was lucid less and less by then.
I was helping him dress – something else he could no longer do on his own, and he caught our reflection in the mirrored closet door.
“Look,” he said, conspiratorially. “My wife’s here.”
I miss him – but we’re determined to carry on the laughter in his honor.
Come on back tomorrow, when
Marriage Metamorphizes with Metastasis.
A mutual favorite song for both Jim and I: