Nothing funny

My sense of humor sometimes borders on the inappropriate. Sometimes my inappropriate jokes can crack up a whole room, other times they bomb hard and I just try to convince myself that it wasn't as bad as I think.  I think I am known for my inappropriate humor in some circles.  Many years ago, I sent an inappropriate joke to a friend by email who must have then forwarded it to others.  A day or so later, the joke got back to me from this friends mother with a very disapproving "Some people never change" that was clearly meant for her daughter (about me).  This was in the days before parents really knew how to use email and the internet.  She hadn't intended for me to see her email, and still, I was mortified. 

In the days after losing Maxie, I was out of my mind.  I cracked jokes and laughed at other people's jokes and stories to keep sane.  When I think about the fact that I found anything to laugh about - I am beyond mortified.  My son had just died.  My whole purpose in life was now gone.  I would never be the same.  As far as I could tell, nothing would really ever be funny again.  I was secretly/not so secretly wishing I were dead too. Still I felt desperate to laugh.  

I remember a friend I hadn't seen in years showed up to Maxie's shiva. I made a big deal about him being there and teased him about being too cool for school.  I think I just wanted to try and take the focus off why he was there.  The idea was making my insides turn.  

At my mom's house after Maxie's funeral, I stood in her livingroom for hours watching a slide show of Maxie's life roll by.  I couldn't tear my eyes off the screen.  I was describing all of the moments of his life to everyone who was standing nearby.  Suddenly, a photo of Max with a nylon sock over his whole head appeared on the screen.  He looked like a little bank robber.  It had been taken at the clinic where he got his helmet.  He had to wear it  so that they could scan the shape of his head, without hair getting in the way.  Taken out of context, it is a very strange photo.  In the context if his funeral, I felt shocked - and very embarrassed.

I was stunned to see it and didn't know how to describe it and instead of explaining I said, "I guess none of you are wondering anymore how I ended up with a dead baby".  When I think about saying that, I want to bury my head in the sand forever.  It was just weird.....and so was I.  Completely out of body.  In total disbelief that I was really watching photos of my child's entire life flash by while standing around at his wake.  How can anyone who was standing there ever understand - I barely do.

I am sure there were many other things I said that were completely crazy and disconnected but I have no recollection of most of it.  I was desperate for normalcy but there was nothing normal about the situation. Nothing at all.  It all goes against the laws of nature.  I was not cut out for this life.

Sometimes I crack jokes at the inappropriate time because I am uncomfortable.  Sometimes I crack inappropriate jokes because I am trying to lighten the mood.  Sometimes I crack jokes because I actually think what I have to say is funny.  But, in those days after Maxie's death, I think I just didn't know what to say to anyone.  I was pretty sure that I had fallen into a rabbit hole and that there was no future that made sense for me ahead.  Truth is that there wasn't....for a long, long time.  There is nothing funny about any of it and if you happened to be standing next to me at my mother's house after Maxie's funeral, I hope you can now understand that I wasn't really trying to be funny. What I really wanted was to disappear with my child.....and still sometimes do.  

They say some people never change, but you have to believe me when I tell you, nothing about me will ever be the same.


Anonymous said...

I understand you. I didn't know how to behave after my daughter died. I was so shocked and terrified. I laid on the bed for weeks and we didn't have the funeral till one month after. I just simplilify couldn't face it and didn''t know how to interact with people. I still don't.

Erin White said...

I totally get this. My sense of humor falls in the inappropriate category more often than not and I've had my fair share of times when I'm pretty sure I offended someone rather than making them laugh. It's that strange tendency you get sometimes when you can't keep from smiling when someone tells you something horrible or you have to relay the message. Why is that?

I once read that laughter/something funny is caused by a "safe shock". Inappropriate walks the that fine line with offensive. If you don't fall off completely, the shock is still safe, but everyone has their own line. And sometimes there are situations that are just so terrible that all you can do is laugh or cry, nothing in between. You had to do something. Sometimes you cried, sometimes you laughed. I get it.

Anonymous said...

I would never, ever, expect someone who has just experienced the worst loss anyone could possibly experience, to act or behave in an appropriate or normal way. It wouldn't really be possible. Don't ever be hard on yourself.