Aching Laughter

I recently re-watched the 1989 movie, Steel Magnolias.  I don’t know if you’ve found this in life, but isn’t it amazing the different feelings and thoughts you have about a movie, a play, or a book that you watched or read when you were younger compared to when you are older?

Good grief, in 1989, the year I graduated from high school, I focused mainly on Shelby (the Julia Roberts part) because she was young, closer to my age, and closer to the life goals I wanted to head toward in the near future. And this round of watching the movie, I focused on M’Lynn (the Sally Field part), the mother who was doing everything she could to keep her adult daughter healthy and alive. Let me tell you, when Sally Field gave her monologue in the graveyard after her daughter’s death, I connected w-a-y more with those words than I ever did back in 1989. When M’Lynn sobs, “I can run from here to Texas but my daughter can’t!”. . . well, Dear Reader, I didn’t have to pretend to understand what that mother felt. You see, those words are now all too terribly real to me.

It’s also in that scene where the viewer (and the characters) pivot from absolute heartache to absolute laughter. I won’t spoil it for you, in case you want to check it out for yourself, Dear Reader, but I have found that life is truly like that . . . moments of absolute heartbreak and devastation flow right into moments of laughter and comedy.  

My daughter and I realize we unnerve people when we make jokes about her paralysis.  A few people understand our sense of humor, a few nervously chuckle, and a few look at us appalled, incredulous that we would joke about such a serious topic as paralysis.  Here are some of our better one-liners over the last 6 years:

  • “Well, I was hoping to be a stand up comedian but now I’m just hoping to be on a sit-com someday.”  – Alissa
  • “Man Alissa, you don’t have a leg to stand on in this!” –  Amy
  • “I just realized I meet the height requirement to play in the Chick-fil-A  playground!”  – Alissa
  • To an absolutely flummoxed sales clerk, “Do you have a paralysis discount?”  – Alissa

There’s a little gem in the book of Proverbs which particularly speaks to me, “Even in laughter, the heart may ache.”  This.  Is.  So.  Freeing!  Even in heart ache, Dear Reader, we can laugh!  We can joke!  We can poke fun at it!  We may be sobbing one moment, laughing the next, and return right back to sobbing, but laughter is a welcome release.  Not taking ourselves seriously every moment of every day is good for us.  

I don’t pretend to know what any of you are going through right now, Dear Reader, but I will tell you this, even if our hearts are aching, we can still laugh and I’ll take it.  I’ll take it!

Until the next Wednesday the Lord allows.