If I Weren’t Laughing, I’d be Crying

This has been sort of a motto (sometimes excuse) I’ve used throughout my life for my desire to see the humor in nearly any situation. At times it’s served me well, lightening the mood at a crucial moment, and at other times it’s gotten me into trouble.

This blog, often categorized as a ”˜humor’ blog, was created as an outlet when I was going through the hardest period of my life to date. I was in so much physical and emotional pain. What could be more natural than writing about my life in a way that would crack other people up?

The first time I remember this concept being discussed was at my grandpa’s funeral. He had died suddenly and it was traumatic for all the grandkids. On the way to the funeral, we stopped for some fast food. As we were loading the drinks into the van, my mom started it up and it immediately lurched forward, drinks exploding everywhere. Every surface of the van was drenched in soda, not conducive to a long car ride. We drove all the way back home, cleaned out the van, put tarps on all of the seats and started out again. Along the way we saw a rainbow and I remember my mom producing giggles by telling us it must be a sign from God that he would never flood the van with soda again.

At the internment, we found humor in the fact that Grandpa’s next door grave neighbor was named James Kirk. How cool to be laid to rest next to the captain.

After the family dinner, out of a clear blue sky came a large dark cloud that rested right over the house where we were staying. Down poured an amazing deluge of hail. All of the grandkids went nuts, running, screaming and laughing through the pelting storm, as sun shone all around the dark cloud. It was an amazing emotional release at the end of a dreadful day. We felt sure that Grandpa had requested the storm for us personally, sick of seeing his grandkids looking so forlorn.

At Aunt J’s funeral service, the tears were near constant. She is a woman almost impossible to hyperbolize. She really IS that wonderful, not in a “perfect” way but in a perfectly real and loving way. When my mother-in-law was discussing her talk for the funeral, Aunt J stopped her at one point in her list of attributes, semi-annoyed, and said, “DON’T LIE.” I love that about her.

At every step of the two-day funeral process, Laylee would ask us, “Is this the part where her body and spirit get stuck back together and she can move again?” Sadly, no, it never was. At one point, frustrated, she asked, “Okay. Then can she please PLEASE get resurrected tomorrow?”

Soon. Soon. Not soon enough for my taste, but I guess “soon” is relative.

Laylee had everyone around her cracking up during the funeral service. She got so bored halfway through when it became apparent that no Beauty-and-the-Beast-style fireworks would be coming from the “Snow White bed” where J’s body was lying, that she started distributing goldfish crackers up and down the church pew to friends, family members and complete strangers. On her second pass, she grabbed a handful so large, it was obvious she would be spilling them all over the place. Dan whispered to her, “Laylee. That’s too many.” She sighed, rolled her eyes, took ONE cracker from her bulging fist, put it back in the bag and continued on her mission. It took a lot of control for everyone who witnessed it not to bust out laughing.

We definitely watch too many movies on long roadtrips but it keeps us sane and it makes for some really good jokes.

At a rest stop, I washed the windows of the car and Laylee (having just watched Aladdin) asked, “Did you squeege these windows? Did you bring me here?”

At a restaurant in Sumpter, where a model train circles around several times per hour, Laylee got impatient for the train to make its next pass. She laid down in mock exasperation and began to sing the famous Snow White ballad, “Some day my TRAIN will come.”
Overall, the trip was a good one. The kids did really well. Heather took some gorgeous portraits of them in her new studio. We got to see friends and family and say “See you soon” to a woman we will never stop loving.

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29 Responses to If I Weren’t Laughing, I’d be Crying

  1. JD says:

    Sorry for your loss. I love Lalee’s hair!! I can’t get enough fo the cute clippies!!

    Road trips aren’t the same without movies.

  2. Jeana says:

    Adorable pictures! And I have to say your family sounds a lot like mine. In the humor thing, that is, we haven’t done any free-style rap contests as of yet…but I want to start that soon.

  3. Glad you’re home, though I know you must feel wiped out emotionally. The pictures are precious.

  4. Nettie says:

    Welcome back! It is such a relief during times of grief to find a bit of levity. Makes you know the sadness won’t be around so strongly forever. Love the pictures!

  5. Buffy says:

    LOved this post sooo much.

    Hope you’re feeling better soon.

  6. andrea says:

    That’s why I like to read your blog: you understand the inextricably entwined nature of tragedy and comedy. You and Shakespeare. 🙂 So sorry about your beloved auntie.

  7. Karen says:

    I’m so sorry about your Aunt J. But I’m also glad that you were able to be with family to say goodbye.

    I love the pictures. Heather is a talented lady! I’m glad you immortalized the Snow White Phase with a formal portrait. Priceless.

  8. Caryn says:

    I’m so sorry that you have to go through this pain, but what a wonderful gift that you and your daughter and your mother all have that you can laugh at such times.

  9. Loss is so much easier when you can share it with family and friends… thanks for sharing, Kathryn.

  10. ummm… thanks for the link to my pics. I think 90 percent of my hits today were from your site. 🙂 You have to tell me next time you do that so I can post something amazingly witty and worthy of being your sis.

  11. Heather says:

    Good to see you back again. Sounds like a bittersweet trip. Glad you were able to find the sunshine.

    So sorry for your loss.

    The pictures are adorable. What cute kids you have.

  12. Chilihead2 says:

    Laughter through tears really is one of the best feelings (Steel Magnolias).

    Those pictures are wonderful!

  13. Amy says:

    This post has been removed by the author.

  14. Amy says:

    Sounds like you have a great mom. You must take after her.

    I’m sorry that your family had to let go of your aunt. It’s nice to have hope, though.

    (Deleted comment by me, just so it doesn’t drive you nuts. It had typos.)

  15. Lauren says:

    It really is see you soon. May you take comfort in that. Glad to have you back.

  16. Heather says:

    It sounds like you guys know how to handle the loss of someone special. You seem so strong and your kids are just adorable!

    I think I know of the same restaurant you went to in Sumpter (if we’re thinking of the same city). We lived in Baker City, OR for a while and my kids just loved going to the “Train Restaurant” as they called it, or Sumpter Junction as it’s called.

    I just love reading your blog and have been for a month or so. Thanks for writing it!

  17. surcie says:

    I love the soda-flood story. Sounds like you have a great family.

  18. Grammy says:

    I read a great quote today by Milton Berle. “Laughter is an instant vacation.” Sometimes we just need a get-away, an escape from the things that are just too big to deal with right this minute. Thank the Lord for laughter and it’s great healing qualities. I really appreciate your ability to find the humor amid the trials. You’re the greatest! Love you!

  19. Grammy says:

    P.S. Whose gorgeous kids are those, anyway? Oh, yeah. They’re ours and we are so glad!

  20. kj says:

    I lov Laylee’s hair, too. Death is such a tough subject and a tough time for kids (not to mention you)–sounds like you all did the best you could, and your best is pretty good!

  21. Tess says:

    What you posted about, sounds like Pollyanna’s ‘glad game’ which I have played to myself ever since I saw the movie. I mean, you can either laugh or cry, and I prefer to laugh.

    I’m glad you had a safe trip, and Heather did an awesome job on the pictures, and you did an awesome job on the kids.

  22. Heather O. says:

    Funerals, in a weird way, can be really, well, fun. When my grandfather died, every single one of his grandchildren were there, which is the first and last time that has ever happened (I think there are 27 of us). We all line up and took pictures, youngest to oldest, tallest to shortest, biggest (there were several of us pregnant!) to smallest. It seemed a little weird to be having so much fun with our cousins, but there we all were, catching up and laughing and having fun being together. At one point, my cousin said to my grandmother, “I’m so sorry my wife couldn’t come”, and she said, “Well you tell you from me that she missed a party. Today wasn’t just a funeral, it was a party. And it was a good one!”

    Somehow I think my grandfather like watching his prosperity rejoice in each other even as we mourned his loss. That’s what families are for.

    Thanks for the pics–such cuties!

  23. EvaRob says:

    just got turned onto your blog, thanks for sharing the journey…so sorry for your loss.

  24. Tigersue says:

    I wish I had the talent you do in being able to tell things with the humor in life. It truly is a gift. It isn’t that I don’t see the funny, I forget about it much too soon. Sorry for your loss, but I always love the remembering of loved ones, specifically the good times.

  25. Bobita says:

    Excellent post. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    Your children are absolutely adorable, especially the musically talented Snow White!

    PS: I have a Children’s Book suggestion, well…two!

    1. When Sophie Gets Angry…Really, Really Angry

    2. Mama, Do You Love Me?


  26. Heth says:

    It sounds like Layee and her goldfish crackers were a burst of sunshine in the middle of a sad time. Great pics.

  27. emlouisa says:

    It’s a fine line, that laughing and crying thing.

    I’m sorry for you loss too. Death is never easy.

    Your kids are beautiful and I love Laylee’s hair. Just love it. And Magoo with the Lion that matches his little lion shoes? Love it. LOOOOVE it.

  28. Wendy says:

    Very cute pictures. I love her hair cut.

  29. Nicole says:

    My grandpa also died suddenly a few years ago. I sang “amazing grace” at the end of the funeral in the choir box in a loft at the church. On my way down during the recessional (is that the right word?) I FELL ALL THE WAY DOWN THE STAIRS with a glass of water and a can of coke in my hand. I landed with my skirt around my waist, panties out there for everyone to see, coke spilled everywhere, glass of water? still FULL. Once everyone knew I was ok it was quite the joke. During the whole dinner and reception after everyone kept asking, “Weren’t you the one who fell down the stairs?” Yeah, great. I’m convinced my grandpa tripped me. 🙂

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