Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sympathy Pains

I am not good at sad. I have a hard time being sad, I have an even harder time helping someone else who is sad. It's not that I'm unsympathetic, or unfeeling, it's just that sadness makes me want to jump up and sing Hello! Ma Baby and make armpit farts and hump rubber chickens. Anything I can do to banish sadness, even if it's replaced by what the fuck is that?

Sadness turns me into Carrot Top.

So, when I hear of a particularly sad thing that has occurred in the life of a friend, I am loathe to sit down and write the sympathy card.
I am so sorry. 
It is an unimaginable grief. 
If there is anything I can do...
All true. All sad. What I really want to do is write a quick joke and draw a crude picture of a giant pair of balls.

When my dad died, I received so many lovely cards and letters and books. Each one carried a thoughtful message. Most of them I did not - I could not - read until much, much later. I would open the card, read the signature, and know that whatever the message was, it was heartfelt and genuine. I cherished those notes, and the emotions behind them.

I don't remember any of the specific messages. But I do remember this:
We pulled up to the cemetery for the graveside service. My father had proudly served in the Marine Corps, and had a Military Funeral. Present were the veterans in uniform who would be giving the gun salute. They were dignified, they were respectful, they were...ancient.  As we drove past, the Husband muttered "Holy shit. Are they veterans of the Civil War?" It struck me as so funny that I laughed out loud, a deep belly laugh that lightened my heart like nothing had since my dad's death.

I needed it. More than sympathy, more than fabulous frozen meals, more than books and cards and letters, I needed to laugh.

I will never say the right thing. I can not tell you when it will get better or stop hurting. But I can tell you a funny story or sing a crazy song or draw you some balls.

We do what we can.

(For Rachel)


  1. I would love a ball drawing the next time I am sad!

  2. "Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion" Truvy

  3. You can totally send me a FunnyCard when something bad happens to me. But no balls. Balls are kinda gross.

    -Motaki, Aspiring Falconer

  4. Oh man. The elderly honor guard at my dad's graveside service a year and a half ago were almost blown away by an incoming thunderstorm. It was horrifying and hilarious.

    And then my mom got a wonderful, hand-drawn sympathy card from the 5 y.o. girl who lives across the street from her. "I'm sorry Mr. D" died, it said...and then there was a kid drawing of a couple in bed, and the one with short hair had x's for eyes. OMG. Someday when little Katie is old enough, I want to tell her how much we really appreciated that card. It was a much-needed bit of humor in a sad couple of days.

  5. Kelly,
    Thank you for this post for Rachel. You are brilliant! ~ Katie