Illustration: Rebekah Nichols, Photo: Johnny Miller
There's a Joke in There Somewhere
Five years ago, I had an awful, soul-sucking year: During the birth of my child, my body went into organ failure, to the point where the doctors told my husband, Jason, I had begun to die. Then my daughter, who was born weighing less than two pounds, spent three months in the hospital fighting for her life. Then, just 14 weeks after we brought her home, my youngest brother, who was 28, died in a car accident, a crash that ended with an explosion so total there was nothing left to bury.
After his funeral, I drove to the Himalayan Institute in Pennsylvania for a three-day Ayurvedic retreat meant to bring things back into balance. Thanks to 72 hours of vegetarian meals, yoga classes, and sessions with a holistic doctor, I returned home hopeful. But less than two weeks later, a chaplain from my local hospital called to inform me that my husband had been the victim of a hit-and-run. "Are you f—ing kidding me?" I shrieked.
At the hospital, when I saw his face, so bruised it was almost unrecognizable, I realized there was no right way to absorb this kind of pain. My life had become a cruel joke.
And yet. When Jason came home, he immediately began cracking wise. And that set the tone for how we regarded his situation: with levity and something like grace.
Him: "My arm hurts. Take your top off—it's the only thing that will help."
Me: "You got hit in a crosswalk at 7 A.M.? Dude, I think God smited you."
When a stranger asked how he broke his arm, he said: "Arm wrestling with my mother-in-law. I won."
We laughed every day, and despite all that we had endured, I was happy. I won't go so far as to say that his being run over was a gift. I will say that the accident reminded me how remarkable humor can be. My husband's laughter is like medicine. When times get tough, he finds the funny—and I just lean in for the joke.