When I was 15 mom and dad called us kids together with some major news. We were turning the spare bedroom into a nursery. I was the youngest of three and dad always introduced me as “the caboose”. But suddenly, at 15 I found myself promoted (or was it demoted) to just another boxcar. The “oops” baby was born and she brought joy to all our hearts.
Sometimes it’s hard to know what to laugh at, and sometimes it’s hard to know when to laugh. Something that is funny today may be just downright cruel hearted tomorrow, and vice versa. I remember when I was going through a painful divorce. I would turn on the TV hoping to lose my emotions in a funny plot. But invariably the show would be poking fun at…divorce! This isn’t funny at all, I would think. How can they be so cruel hearted? Same thing when there's been a death in your family, and this week's episode of your favorite comedy mirrors your tragedy. Ha Ha. How funny!
In the midst of a tragedy laughter becomes the indicator that grief is temporary and life will go on...
But what has that got to do with my little sister? Well, when she was just a few weeks old her little baby carrier slipped and she sustained a head injury. She was hospitalized for a time, and as always, my family turned to God in prayer. (If your family doesn’t do this, you might give it some serious thought.) Of course, God touched her and healed her and she grew up to be normal. OK... the jury is still out on that “normal” thing. Suffice it to say her healing was complete. And so now, when my little sister says something or does something silly, I ask her, “Were you dropped on your head as a child?” She has the wittiest answer for me… “Yes." Then she usually adds, "What’s your excuse?” This little inside joke is a special connection I have with her.
She and I like to laugh about it now. But at the time she was in the hospital, and for years afterwards, there was no humor to be found in the situation. Even now, some 35 years later, I broach the subject gingerly… except when she does something silly.
At a funeral we cry, but then somebody recalls a funny incident they shared with the departed, and we find ourselves laughing through our tears. What we’ve learned is that laughter is therapeutic, even healing! In the midst of a tragedy laughter becomes the indicator that grief is temporary and life will go on.
So, whatever you’re going through right now, don’t hold back the laughter. In fact, find the strength to let out one of those deep down, grief busting, belly laughs.
People will think your train has jumped its track.
Red Caboose by Shari Weinsheimer