When something exciting happens, I’m one of the first (and loudest) people to make a big deal about it. Friend got engaged? SQUEAL! HUGS! DRINKS! OMGOMGOMG! Grandpa’s having a birthday? CAKE! BALLOONS! SINGING! PRESENTS! YAYAYAYAYAY! A puppy finally learns to pee and poop outside? GOOD PUPPY! SO GOOD! HAVE TREATS! LOTS & LOTS OF TREATS! OMG! SMARTEST PUPPY EVER!
But if something bad happens? I don’t know how to handle it. Friend totaled their car? “Dude, that sucks. You had full coverage right?” Someone loses their job? “Dude, that sucks. At least you’ll save on gas money.” Friend gets heart broken? “Dude, that sucks. Want a drink? I suggest tequila. And that guy who appears single right over there. Don’t worry, he’s totally cute…after that shot of tequila.”
I’ve always seen myself as the sarcastic jokester among my circle of friends. If they’re feeling down, I can usually make them laugh and turn their attention to something lighter. But if they’re really down? And it’s heavy, serious shit where jokes are likely not appropriate? I can’t function. Unfortunately, this was brought to my attention yet again today when one of my longest, most beloved friends called to invite me and my husband out bowling. I razzed him for not calling more often (it’s been about three weeks) and he said he was dealing with a bunch of shit. Knowing his step-dad had been in the hospital for nearly a year with cancer, I asked how he was.
“We put him in the ground today,” he said.
“Oh man, I’m so sorry.”
Then silence. And there’s nothing I hate more than awkward silence. But, what else do you say? I tried to ask questions and keep the conversation going, but it was loud and he was having difficulty hearing me because he was with family at a restaurant having pizza, drinking beer (per his step-dad’s request). But despite all that, I could tell he didn’t really know what to say either.
I didn’t know my friend’s step-dad very well and hadn’t seen him since I was in high-school, but I still find myself fighting back tears just imagining the pain my dear friend must be going through. And for the first time, a silly joke, a goofy face, not even a shot of tequila will help make that pain go away. My “bag-o-happy-tricks” is rendered useless. And that makes me feel useless.
Maybe I just need more tequila.