Healing from Loss: Tears and Laughter

Have you ever noticed how close laughter is to crying? Days ago, I laid on the floor doing sit-ups and crunches. My dog, Suki, stood over me, engrossed by this new perspective, and poked her little inquisitive nose right in my face. It started out as strained stifled giggles that sounded almost like sobbing. It grew into a bona fide body-shaking laugh when Suki dropped her squeak toy on my chest. Then I heard my high-pitched squealing laugh suddenly dissolve into a full-fledged howling cry. I wailed and shuddered and sunk into sorrow. Sorrow is what I lived with for so long. It is like an old familiar husband who haunts every corner of my home. I divorce sorrow. It can claim only the smallest part of my life now.

Another time, I received a package from Marika’s friend, Carla. It felt like it weighed nothing so I was already amused before even opening the big box. Inside, I found a thousand folded paper cranes, skewered and strung up in denim-colored yarn, each one crafted from a small calendar page of Dalai Lama insights. I laughed and cried simultaneously with uncontainable tears and whoops of laughter.

There is plenty of room for more laughter in my life. I need to invite it in more. It needs to take over the fear and negativity that too often creep in.

Like days ago, when I walked Suki in the driveway and adrenaline spiked every inch of me when I spotted a big dark threatening lump that seemed to be moving towards us. It was a turtle the size of a dinner plate. It had a big tail and a vicious-looking beak of a mouth. Suki strained at the leash to investigate further but I felt sheer terror and ran to the other side of the house dragging her along behind me. It was a turtle! A poor confused, displaced turtle. A silly ridiculously slow and unconcerned animal. And it was in my driveway where at any time my son’s friends’ jeeps and trucks dash in and out whipping up small storms of pebbles and dirt. I could have laughed but instead I ran in fear.

And last night my dear friend, Liz, called to invite me and Suki to “come over right now for a campfire.” I love campfires. I love spur of the moment invitations. It was an opportunity to sit back with friends and watch fireflies and laugh in the light of a flaming crackling campfire.

“I just got back from dinner, I just sat down to write, my laundry isn’t done, the litter needs scooping, it’s 8:30 already and I’m tired.”

Two hours later, violins played in the background as I hammered myself over the head, beat my butt and kicked myself for not being spontaneous and losing out on a great opportunity. I went to bed disappointed and disgusted with myself.

But this morning I forgive myself. It’s okay to have a setback or two once in a while. I’ll take a rain check and be kinder to myself and initiate a new opportunity for fun. Because I need to laugh more. Even if it sometimes dissolves into tears.

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