May 13, 2015

15 to 15: Laughter

So here's the rundown.  Wednesday, April 29, 2015 was exactly 15 weeks until our 15th anniversary.  So in a countdown to the big day, I decided to start a weekly series of anecdotes from our 15 years of marriage.  I am calling it 15 Weeks to 15 Years.  Since everything needs a hashtag, it would be #15to15.  I am utilizing the blog because I have a propensity to yammer a lot when I'm writing and no one would want to read a long status update.  So be looking for these weekly entries.

A funny thing happened last Thursday night.  My GI system (gastrointestinal, not military) and I have a rough relationship.  I have pretty bad acid reflux, which right now is regulated very well with Zegerid.  However, at times, it was wildly out of control.  I would wake up during the night with acid in my mouth and such.  (Wait, it will get better.  I think.)  I also have a very severe allergy to eggs which was not diagnosed until I was 24 or so.  For those of you who do not know about severe food allergies, your body tries to get the food out of your system when it realizes you are having massive complications from it.  The first major step is basically the worst case of reflux ever.  (Translation: vomiting)  So, between the allergy and the reflux, I have spent more than my share of late nights in the bathroom battling all sorts of GI demons.

The good news is that I rarely have to deal with this any more.  My reflux medicine has pretty much eliminated issues.  Avoiding eggs keeps me from having those problems.  And being more careful with food choices (like not eating lasagna at 9:30 at night) has also helped.  So I was a little bit unhappy that I woke up on Thursday night with that all too familiar stomach pain.  As the incident worsened and I sat in the restroom making various pleas and promises to God if He would derail the attack, I had no clue what had started the whole thing.  I had eaten dinner early in the evening.  I was taking my medicine.  Not an egg was in sight.  Things went from bad to worse and I knew that I was going to begin the "technicolor yawn," as the Australians call it.  The very next thing I knew, Heather was standing over me and asking/yelling, "What happened? Are you okay?"  I was face down on the floor with my head wedged against the door.  Well, that was a new twist...

I still don't know what caused the fainting episode.  I have seen my doctor (so get off my back, people).  She didn't know.  Heather's armada of physicians at work felt like it was just a random fainting spell.  The next day I was a little out of it and we suspect I suffered my third concussion (and second in the bathroom).  It was quite nerve-wracking.  The worst part was to see my usually calm and collected doctor wife with a (somewhat) hidden look of panic on her face as I tried to get my bearings that night.  As we talked about the incident later, she said something really interesting.  I had made some joke about the whole situation and she said, "That's why I got so worried and when I knew you weren't okay.  You stopped joking about stuff."

I had not really thought about how much laughter is a vital part of our marriage.  It is a barometer of sorts of how we are doing.  In the highest moments, we will laugh all the time - or so it seems.  I remember being newlyweds and just loving going to the grocery store because we had such fun and laughed so much.  In the tougher times, laughter is not so quick to come.  Heather has told me several times recently how much she loves the way I make her laugh.  And I love how she has developed a whip-smart humor factory of her own.  That is a big part of our language to each other.  We love laughing together.

There are not many things I treasure more than sitting in the living room after the kids are in bed and watching a funny show with Heather.  The other night, she was on call at the hospital and was watching some comedy on her iPad in the wee hours.  She thought to herself, "This isn't as fun without David."  I've noticed, we have a habit of turning and looking at each other when something really funny happens on screen.  Without me there, she didn't have the echo to her chuckle.  It was very sweet, and something I have felt as well when she is gone.

A few years ago, I bought Jim Gaffigan's Mr. Universe comedy special and we watched it together.  We laughed so hard that night.  My stomach hurt afterwards.  A few weeks later, we watched it again with Heather's cousin Dave and his wife Lacy.  We laughed again so hard that my jaw was killing me.  It was just ridiculously funny.  (Gaffigan is my favorite comedian.  One of the cruelest things that has happened to us was when we lived in Tallahassee and he came for the Homecoming concert.  We had tickets.  Then we caught the H1N1 Asian Death Flu and couldn't go. So close.)  We still quite that special frequently to each other.  We use lines from Friends or Big Bang Theory all the time.  Our kids have inherited the sense of humor.  There are times we can't help but busting out laughing over some comment Josiah makes or draws, some face and impression Natalie does, or some insane song lyrics that Gabe generates.  Laughter is the sound I like the best in our house.  (Well, except for silence.  At night, I do enjoy a brief time of silence.  Not during the day.  Silence in the daytime means the kids are up to no good.)

Who would have thought in that moment, when I was crumpled up in the corner of the bathroom, lump swelling up on my forehead, that an absence of laughter would be the best indicator that I wasn't doing well?  I would have assumed the sight of me crumpled up in the corner of the bathroom would have been indicator enough.  But I was concussed, so I am not really the best judge of what was happening.  I have thought back on our years together to try to come up with a story that best illustrates the importance of humor - and something to purge the memory of me on the bathroom floor.  It has been difficult.  There are so many stories, some of which I want to save for future posts.  (I still have 12 of these, you know.)  These are not in chronological order, so the one I choose was from this past December.

Heather and I were at Target one day.  (I posted some of this on Facebook at the time, but not all of it.)  Somehow she was off during the day.  We were doing some Christmas shopping.  First, we passed an older couple.  It looked like they were looking for gifts for someone in their sphere of influence.  The guy saw some gadgety wine opener.  He picked it up and said to his wife, "Hey, honey, look at this wine opener.  This would be a great gift."  She ignored him and kept looking at other real gifts.  "Hey, honey, look at this.  This is a nice wine opener.  It would be great gift."  She kept looking at other stuff and grunted, "Mmm hmm."  "Hey, honey.  Seriously.  Look at this.  It would be nice.  People would appreciate this."  Finally she looked over at him and said, "Wow. That is a massive waste of time and money."  He got this gleam in his eye.  She knew he wasn't finished and started to shake her head.  He called a Target employee over.  "Ma'am.  Can I ask you something?  Don't you think this is a nice gift?  Wouldn't you like it if someone gave this to you?"  The employee looked at him and at his wife, not sure of whose side to take.  We strolled by them and then went off into the food section.  We both looked at each other and I said, "That's us in thirty years, isn't it?"  She said, "I was thinking the same thing."  Then we busted out laughing.  They were so much like us.  He was a little dorkier than me; she was a little meaner than Heather.  But it was like looking through a time-travel mirror.

A few minutes later, we were in the baking aisle.  As I am wont to do, I decided to be an idiot.  I picked up a bottle of Wesson oil and tilted my head back and pretended to guzzle the bottle.  Heather looked over at me, shook her head and kept walking.  I put the bottle back, started laughing at my idiocy, and then looked at the other end of the aisle.  There was a woman there with her cart, trying to decide if she wanted to come down our way.  She saw me with the bottle and got this disgusted look on her face.  The best way I can describe it is the look of a stereotypical valley girl cheerleader if asked to prom by the secretary (not president) of the chess club.  "Eeeewwww."  She made that look and then hustled quickly away.  I lost it.  I mean, full on belly laughing, couldn't control myself.  Heather looked over at me and asked what was going on.  I somehow gasped out about the lady.  Heather started laughing too.  "Did she see you?"  "I'm pretty sure.  If she did, she made a face at me and left.  If not, she's kind of jerk."  The best part was Heather got a little upset at the woman.  Here I am, a 40 year old father of three pretending to chug Wesson oil in the middle of the Northeast Columbia Target.  My highly educated doctor wife just shakes her head at me.  A stranger is understandably horrified by the whole scene.  And my wife gets mad at her.  It was a perfect microcosm of our relationship.  I can be stupid.  Heather can get exasperated at my stupid.  But if anyone else calls me stupid, let's just say you don't tick off a doctor.  They know how to make it look like an accident.  (Just kidding.  I mean, they do.  But she would never do that.)

I think that most people who have known us as a couple over the years would not be surprised that laughter is so important to us.  We talk a lot; we laugh a lot.  It's who we are.  I remember at Family Camp last year, OJ Aldrich of Summit Church in Orlando talked about the importance of fun and laughter in a family.  I had never really thought about that.  He said that healthy families laugh together - not AT each other, with each other.  (Although, from time to time, it is AT each other.  That just has to be the exception, not the rule.)  That is one of the things I love the most about Heather - her laugh.  And I love to be able to be a part and a cause of that.  

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