Monday, November 7, 2011

Treading Water in the Shallow End

Not so many years ago someone said, when referring to me, that I was simple minded. Not her words exactly but the essence was that I was lucky to be able to go through life unencumbered by deep thoughts, and I do know that she used the word deep. Prior to that I had not heard the word deep used, outside of swimming pool references, since junior high when Susie would pass me notes that said "that is so deep!" after quoting lines from her favorite Air Supply song.

The truth is, I can be deep, just like I can be obnoxious, but more often than not, I chose not to be. If deep means that I am so burdened by the challenge of daily living that I cannot be cordial to the cashier at Trader Joe's then I agree, I'm simple. If being deep means that I need to suffer through the agony and angst of motherhood, without allowing myself to be overcome with joy at the deliciousness of children, it's perfectly fine with me to stay in the shallow end.

When my father was in the hospital, when we thought he had just had a major stroke and was certainly dying, the very night that I flew 500 miles to hold him close to me one last time, my aunt greeted me in the hospital hallway with "thank God you're here, we need to laugh a bit", and I felt, while suffocating in scared and lost, appreciated and home.

My truth is that I prefer to laugh, and sometimes I prefer to laugh when it might not be appropriate, when common convention tells us to be somber and morose. I've had my share of opportunities; from a life that was once so easy and fun, people have died, plans have changed, and I have cried.

After my grandmother's funeral, when none of us were ready to step away and let this be over, we moved our horrible day to a favorite restaurant. Late into the evening, after a wonderful meal and countless bottles of wine, the waiter asked what we were celebrating. The laughter that had been nonstop for hours came to an abrupt halt, there was an awkward pause, and I answered, "our grandmother". It was not the answer he expected but it was the best answer we had, and it was just the answer that Mimi would have loved. In the end it was the laughter that allowed us to hold onto each other for just a while longer.

Treading water in the shallow end has served me well.

I wish I could carry your smile in my heart
At times when my life seems so low
It would make me believe what tomorrow could bring
When today doesn't really know.

Now that's deep.

All Out of Love, written by Graham Russell, Clive Davis, and Lewis Martinee

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