I laughed a lot in the days after my son passed away. I cried a lot too, but the unexpected reaction of laughter in the beginning is what I remember the most. It is not something I would have expected from myself. Reactions to grief can take you quite by surprise. Laughter has always been a defense mechanism for me. It happens when I am happy, nervous and now I can add in shock and grieving to that list.
Mainly, my memories of the days after Christian passed consist of me in my parents dining room, surrounded by all of my friends and family. We spent hours sifting through pictures of my son to have at the wake. Being the first child, there are pictures of him doing EVERYTHING. Even one of his bare butt painted like a pumpkin when he was three. My mom still can’t believe I did that. Some of my laughter was connected to the pictures and stories about him. Most of it, though, was laughing at things that were happening in real time. You can’t believe some of the strangely funny things that happen when everyone is dealing with a tragedy like this. Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of tears, from me and everyone else, but there was a lot of laughter too. The laughter ended pretty quickly when everyone had to go back to their own lives and I was left to face reality. To this day, I know I am never alone, but you know what I mean.
The funny thing is, no pun intended, that Christian loved to laugh too. Each time I see a medium they mention his fun loving, jokester attitude. His eye had this gleam of mischief and sparkle. His smile was bright as the sun and his laugh was contagious. I loved to joke around with him. He always knew when I was kidding and called me out on it. There is only one time that I ever fooled him. It was shortly before the accident. We were getting ready to take him to camp. At the time my boys were six, three and one. You can imagine it was like a circus in the morning. I don’t remember the details, but on any given morning, this could have been the scenario. He would be getting dressed for camp, the three year old would be using the bathroom and calling for me to help, while the one year old would be screaming his head off. As I am rushing around to meet the needs of all of them, I only got myself half dressed. When Christian saw me his eyes widened with alarm. “Mom, what are you doing?? You don’t have any pants on”!! To my credit, I knew there were clean clothes in the laundry room downstairs. I couldn’t resist this joke though. “Christian, we have to leave NOW or we will be late. I can’t put pants on today. I will just have to go like this. No one will notice. I will stay in the car”, I said. Not only did his eyes widen again, but they popped out of his head, “You can’t do that!! All the kids will make fun of me. Mom, go put pants on”! We went on like this for a few minutes. I truly had him convinced that I thought it was okay to drop him off at camp with no pants on. My poor six year old’s fear of embarrassment was palpable. It was just so fun! I obviously put pants on, but I stood by the idea that I didn’t really NEED to wear them. It was the only time I actually pulled the wool over his eyes. My boys and I talk about it sometimes, because of course I also joke with them too. They don’t actually remember this, but they do find it hilarious.
True (not shock induced) humor and laughter took a long time to return in my life after losing my son. When it first made an appearance it was always attached to guilt. As time has gone on, this has changed. One of the best sounds and feelings in the world is true laughter. It feeds my soul. When I think of Christian, his smile and laughter always come to mind. Through this journey I am learning the truth behind joy and sadness existing alongside of each other. I believe that he is teaching me, every day, the beauty in pain. Cherish the moments of smiles and laughter and surround yourself with people who continue to feed this part of your soul. Love to heaven…
Disclaimer: The photo of the woman in the car is NOT me, but it is what I imagine I would look like if I had gone through with this prank. To really hit it home I would lean out of the car just enough to scare him!!