Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Prodigal Sense of Humor

She has returned! Actually, she returned the other night, but I wasn’t completely convinced she was really here. I was busy doing dishes, a task I hate, thinking about all the miseries of the past week – dealing with doctors and hospitals, planning a funeral for a man who didn’t want one, dealing with a husband who’s too “strong” for his own good when I know perfectly well what’s going on inside him, trying to lose myself in work – when she crept up behind me.

I wasn’t sure who it was until she got me thinking along some very odd lines. Most of these thoughts centered around how all of this could be turned into some great comedic skits. Not right now. And certainly not representing my own family members. But some day, with characters I’d never met, I could maybe find myself rolling on the floor with laughter over the “too-strong husband and his desperately-wishing-he’d-let-go-and-let-her-be-the-strong-one wife.” Then, yesterday, when I found myself imagining even more comedic scenes and even emailing such thoughts to a friend, I realized she really, truly was back!

I, of course, ran to her and hugged and kissed her. I didn’t know where she’d been, but she just looked so bedraggled and forlorn. It was such a shame to see her looking like death – she’s usually the only one I can count on to always be so full of life.
I ordered the servants to bring her the best clothes, give her a ring for her finger (hell, give her the best diamond and emerald ring we could find).

I almost ordered the servants to produce a fatted calf. Then I remembered I don’t eat baby animals. Instead, I was inspired for the first time in days to turn on the stove where I cooked up her favorite comfort meal, a meal that’s ludicrous in how ridiculous it sounds in its simplicity, but how satisfying it can be at the right time: baked beans with chopped onion topped with fried egg. It was a meal worthy of someone who’d come home after a long and hard journey.

Of course Sense of Dread and Despair, her older sister, had been busy vacuuming and dusting and cleaning out closets. When D and D heard the laughter and smelled the baked beans, she demanded of the servants to know what was happening. When the servants explained her younger sister had come home, D and D threw herself on the bed and refused to come downstairs to join us in our celebration.

I had to go up and coax her to join us. She complained that for years she’d worked for me like a slave, that she’d toiled away at trying to consume my entire mind, that she’d always done everything I’d ever asked of her: helped me imagine worst-case scenarios, encouraged me to argue with others, made me feel worthless when I needed it. She pointed out that Humor has wasted my time on frivolous matters, caused me to take life less seriously, encouraged me to imagine episodes during life’s most tragic moments.

I replied, “Dear daughter, you are always with me, and everything that is mine is yours. But we should be glad and celebrate! Your sister was dead, but she is now alive. She was lost and has now been found.”


Heather said...

Excellent your imagination. Glad to see you back after such a tough time. I'm sending you humourous thoughts to keep the ball rolling!

Anonymous said...

It certainly was a long week without her.

Rebecca H. said...

Welcome back!! Glad you've found ... er, yourself again.

Emily Barton said...

Charlotte, thanks. You're right. Laughter is almost always helpful. I've actually recently been informed that laughter is almost as good for the body and mind as meditation. So, I hope I can keep up my goal of helping everyone (including myself)laugh a little.

Ms. Blossom (BTW, I realized a while ago, I should really call you "Ms. Goddess," but I know so many people who want to be called that. Ms. Blossom is so wonderfully unique, and is so visually pleasing!), I felt like I ought to say "my apologies to the Gospel of Luke,", but if at least one person enjoyed it, which it seems you did, that's enough for me.

Mandarine, yes, a very long week...

And, Dorr, so sorry I missed that hike with you, but we'll see each other soon, right?

Rebecca H. said...

Absolutely, Emily!