The past year and a half has been rough. Losing Dad hit me much harder than I ever knew it would. The economy has been rough. Dear friends have endured hardships and tragedy. The bakery has gone through several major changes, some of which were extremely unpleasant. It's felt like "What now?!?" for far too long.
But through it all I've maintained my sense of humour. Or so I thought.
Last Friday my Uncle George died. I cried. I came home, I listened to Freddy Fender, I cried. I thought about my dad and I cried. I thought about Carol and the cousins and I cried.
They asked us to speak at the service. What could I say that wouldn't make me cry even harder? I sat and I listened to the words others said about George. How giving and kind and funny. Funny...
I remembered as a child when the Clevelands came to town there was always so much laughter. When we were broke and broken there was always something to laugh over.
As an adult I realised that life is hard, often unfair, sometimes tragic and bitter. But life is good and beautiful and filled with joy. You can turn your eyes to the sorrow. You can fill your heart with tragedy. You can swallow down choking mouthfuls of bitter despair or you can feel the true weight of good, find delight in simple beauty and let joyful laughter spill from your lips.
We can choose what aspects of life are important to us and I try always to choose joy.
But for a while I had lost my way.
Sitting in church listening to people telling their stories of George, of a house filled with love and laughter, of the gifts he gave others, I discovered I knew what I wanted to say. I knew I wanted to tell everyone that I learned that love and laughter are far more important than bitterness and woe and what a precious gift that was.
I didn't say it as well as I wanted and I cried too. But the shadow that had lain across my heart this long time was lifted. My eyes opened to the fact that I had not been "fine". I had let my heart fill with sadness. My sense of humour had begun to atrophy and I had let cynicism creep up on me.
I will miss George