It is a terrible truth that human beings have the capacity to experience the sort of intense and debilitating grief that clouds the soul and shrivels the heart and--without finding that grief lifted or removed or in any measurable way more bearable--may simultaneously find themselves laughing out loud at that old Saturday Night Live skit about Schweddy Balls.
"How is it possible?" I asked David that night. "How is it possible that our baby is dead and Schweddy Balls are still funny?"
David didn't know. "But I like when you laugh at stupid stuff," he said.
I used to laugh at stupid stuff all the time.
The very first thing that made me laugh after we got home from the hospital was a dog fart. It was surprising and audible and Cooper's face after he did was so shocked and funny. I couldn't help but laugh. And then I cried and cried and cried.
Eventually, I suppose, we will master this balancing act. I'm getting practice already. I know what it feels like to be conflicted. To be thrilled and happy for a dear friend who had a sweet baby boy on Christmas Day while knowing that it will be a long time before I will ever be able to see that baby without crying. Not because I'm angry or jealous (I don't want her baby, I want my baby, and none of that is her fault), but because we had January due dates a week apart and one warm evening in late June we each surprised the other with our pregnancy announcements at a little Italian restaurant where we met for dinner and we were so happy that night and we laughed and compared our practically non-existent baby bumps and our little peanut ultrasounds. And now she has a baby and my baby is dead and no matter how happy I am for her or how much I want to be a good friend to her, how could her baby not remind me of everything I've lost?
Eventually we will master the art of missing Eliza and still finding moments of laughter, but right now it still feels shocking.
It felt like a sacrilege, honestly, to miss my baby girl so desperately and yet to sit on my sofa and suddenly find myself giggling at an old Saturday Night Live skit. It made me feel guilty and strange and also like, seriously, the first thing that makes me laugh is this kind of embarrassingly juvenile humor? I mean, couldn't I at least have laughed at witty black humor or clever word play or the kind of joke that references an obscure literary theorist? Something more dignified? I mean I am a bereaved parent. Surely my taste in jokes would have matured through my grief.
It is a terrible truth in this world that beautiful babies will die and stupid shit will still, somehow, be funny.
I submit as evidence the following: