Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Laughter Like a Phoenix

Laughter rises out of tragedy, when you need it the most, and rewards you for your courage.
~ Erma Bombeck

This weekend is the 24th anniversary of a high school friend who committed suicide. One night, Jim, a curly-haired ear-pierced football player, came up and hugged me after a game.

It seemed odd because we weren't dating or even close friends, just acquaintances. He said nothing but I remember his letterman's jacket all warm and cozy. He looked crestfallen. A week later I realized it was his way of saying goodbye.

He committed suicide in his parent's bathroom with a hand gun, possibly foreseeing that clean-up would be easier in the bathroom rather than any other room in the house.

My classmates and I all sat together at the funeral watching the boys from my class who just seemed too young to be carrying this burden, his casket, down the aisle. The pastor blankly read his bio from the newspaper like he barely knew him.

Then we sang hymns. An older woman who sat behind us sang with a voice that boomed off-key and loud with a thick German accent. My friends and I looked at each other and giggled. I thought, oh my gosh, this is such a sad event with this young man cutting off his life so short and we can't stop laughing!

It was like his plea to us from the great beyond for someone, anyone, not to take this so seriously. I sense one who commits suicide immediately regrets it although they are not around to admit it to anyone. It's unforgivable. Not by God but by the family they leave behind.

God deals with those who take their lives in ways we'll never know. He doles out teaspoons of goodness to the survivors gradually. Teaspoons turn to cups that overflow. The good the family never thought imaginable turns into ten-fold, twenty-fold, and forty-fold until they can't contain it anymore.

It's God way of making up for losing a son, brother, sister, father, mother, or friend who chose to return His merchandise.

At the grave site, a spray of flowers adorned Jim's casket. Everyone walked by and took a flower from it. I walked towards it and slipped a little, catching myself on the casket. I thought, oh no, I'm gonna fall right down here six feet into this hole - and there's Jim, laughing his butt off.

Luckily I regained my footing and took the flower with me, quietly giggling to myself.

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