As probably all of you who read my blog know, my cousin Heather's son was in a bad accident while at college a little over a week ago. He is in a coma but showing steady signs of improvement. She and her husband have been with him at the hospital trying to basically just get through it without losing hope, faith, their minds, you name it.
I call or message Heather on average of about once a day. And to be honest, it is as much for me as for her because I need to be sure she knows that I am here for them. Because that is all I can do for her right now. That's it and I hate it. But I know from personal experience, that this is a ride you take alone. Yes, it helps immeasurably to know you have support (and boy have they been shown that and more from everyone in our community and beyond) but ultimately, they are in this with just each other and we are outsiders who can only imagine what they are going through.
Since life goes on, even though when you are in the hospital it feels like time has frozen still and you can't imagine that the sun is daring to shine outside and that other people are going about their "normal" lives while you are in what feels like suspended time, you start prioritizing what has to happen in your regular life.
Who is helping take care of the other kids? What about groceries? Laundry? Housework? Not to mention keeping up with all the household bills while nobody is working because they are in the hospital. You start dealing with the details of a life that almost doesn't feel like your own anymore.
At least that is how I have often felt when being with The Toots in the hospital. The feeling like my heart has literally been ripped out of my body and is now laying on a hospital bed and I am helpless to make things better. All I can do is just watch and pray and wait.
Oh yeah, and laugh. That's right, I said laugh. Not because there won't be tears, because there will and plenty of them at times, but because you need to grab on to joy and hope when it feels like you are going to drown in fear and sadness.
I am notorious for going into inappropriate gales of laughter while in the ER or, God help me, the Special Care Unit with Tess. It is how I cope. I can find humor even in the worst of circumstances and I thank God that I can. What little is left of my sanity is only there because I choose to laugh when it would be so, so easy to just cry.
And so when Heather managed to take about five minutes to get home to work on those details of her life, I went to go see her. I didn't know how either of us would be when we saw each other. I knew it would either be laugh or cry.
So we laughed. Mostly over absolutely nothing. To the point where her other son who was talking with us starting teasing us and saying, "Would you two get it together?!"
To which we responded by laughing more. Poor Jack. He could only shake his head at us in what I can only assume was pity over the fact that we had both lost our damn minds or maybe fear that he would have to keep listening to us.
But laughter truly is the best medicine. At least it felt pretty darn good last night...