Thursday, December 11, 2008
Laughing Through the Tears
That's what I was doing last night.
Have you ever had one of those days that just robs your spirit of every ounce of its joy? Yesterday was one of those days for me. By the time my BFF called me at 7 o'clock, I had wadded myself up into the recliner with my blanket and my dog. I'd eaten a simple but lovely dinner prepared by my dear husband, and I was trying to focus on a hockey game. There was no indication that the tears were about to come flooding in, except that I had nearly choked on a chicken nugget during dinner when I thought about how I was feeling. I swallowed those feelings along with the chicken, but they came rushing back five minutes into my phone conversation.
She was telling me about her day and about how the new antibiotic (the 4th one since September) may finally be helping her pneumonia. Let me tell you, I don't want to lose this girl. She's my touchstone, my true best friend. She and I have been through ups, down, difficult/stressful jobs, shouting matches, and throwing things. And we're still here with each other. As she has often said, "That's love."
She and I have lost our mothers together and have been on the other end of the phone for each other when the grief broke over us like waves of salty tears. I was her safe place to go when she was at the very edge of sanity while taking care of her ailing father, though I missed her call on my cell phone when she was sitting with him in those last moments at the hospital. I'll always regret missing that call.
So when, last night, she said something like, "I'm tired of this. I hate being old and sick."
That was all it took. Soon I was gulping and crying and making no sense at all. My husband came back upstairs from taking the dogs out, and without saying a word, he handed me the box of tissues and just let me get it out.
Before I talked to her, I'd been thinking how much I just wanted this all to be over - this life, I mean. I was exhausted from battling the pain and getting nowhere. I was tired of praying. I was sick of going to doctors. I wanted it to be over.
And she said, while I was carrying on:
"You know what happened to me? After all of this? After working sick all day and having to go lay back down in the bed after my shower?"
She then related to me the story of the stray bit of bacon that got stuck in her teeth. She said it had been bugging her all day, since lunch, and when she left work, she grabbed a toothpick to pry the little bugger out. She managed to free it from its hiding place, and then....
Then, as she was going about her business, she noticed that her tooth felt funny. She ran her tongue over it and then noticed a chunk of something metallic. And into her hand, she spat out her filling.
The idea of it was so ludicrous, given all she's been through in the last few months, and the way she told it was so incredulous, we soon started laughing hysterically, coughing our heads off (we both have asthma, and laughing always starts up a coughing/wheezing fit). Soon it was happy tears, tears of laughter, falling from my eyes and spilling in waterfalls over my cheeks.
My dear husband just looked at me and smiled, making some wisecrack about women. I know that he was happy she had gotten through my fog to make me laugh.
Before she hung up, she said, "Now no more crying! It'll be alright." That's what she always says. It'll be alright. And it always is.
So today, when I emailed back and forth with my older sister, and we commiserated about our woes, I wrote back to her:
We have ordinary lives. Nothing too spectacular and nothing that will kill us either. Just ordinary, wretched lives full of pain and illness. I wish we had rolled the dice differently, but I suppose we just have to make the best of it. As much as I wished to be a Broadway star when I was young, I was meant to be right where I am for some reason. I’m sure at the very last breath of this life, I’ll go, “So THAT’S what it was all about!” And I’ll do the hokey-pokey into the afterlife.
And I hope that my BFF will either be there waiting for me with a big glass of iced tea or will join me soon afterward. There's truly nothing better than a friend.
I'm so grateful for my BFF, my sister, and each one of you. In particular, one of you sent me the kindest, most thoughtful message in the world today. It truly shook me out of my pity party and set my feet back on the path. Yes. I'm strong. And it'll be alright.
Peace - D