As I watched my son, Alex, sleeping yesterday afternoon, having fallen asleep as soon as he came in from school, I was reminded of another time I watched him sleep when he was eight months old. That particular time, he was not sleeping peacefully in his own bed, but in a crib at Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital, having been admitted a few days earlier with meningitis. I recalled how terrified I had been when they gave us the diagnosis of meningitis, as I had heard horror stories of brain damage and death from the disease. I hate to use the word luckily, but I will, because Alex had the viral form of meningitis and not the more serious bacterial kind. He was hospitalized for five days as we, along with the medical staff, waited for his fever to break. It eventually did and he fully recovered with no lasting effects or memory of the event. I, however, remember it as if it were yesterday. As I thought back to that time, I first recalled how frightening it was , but then my memory shifted to a friend’s visit and how humor comforted me and helped alleviate my fears.
My friend, Lisa, came to visit me and Alex while he was in the hospital bringing with her an adorable soft and floppy stuffed frog that was almost the same length as my son. Now you need to understand that Lisa and I share a similar sense of humor. The two of us try to find something to laugh about in even the most difficult of situations, we find humor in things that some people might find offensive and we love to make people laugh at our silly shenanigans. Lisa and I worked together for many years, developing a friendship and sharing a lot of laughter. A few of my favorite memories we shared are the time we put fake dog poop behind our boss’s office door, the time we wore wax lips on Halloween to try to make our less-than-humorous co-workers laugh and the time we ditched work early to go to the fair. By far, one of our favorite things to do was make up secret nicknames for our co-workers; there was Old Yeller, Punchinello and Cowpoke to name a few (you will have to trust me when I say the nicknames were called for and very appropriate). So when Lisa walked into my son’s hospital room with that floppy frog, what happened next was to be expected; it was, after all, just me and Lisa doing what we do best…laughing in the face adversity.
As my sick little boy lay sleeping, Lisa and I took that floppy stuffed frog and placed it underneath his baby blanket so that Alex’s head peeked out of one end and the frog’s legs peeked out of the other; making him “half baby/half frog.” The sight of half baby/half frog was too much and the two of us laughed and laughed and laughed some more. For Lisa’s entire visit, I forgot how scared I was and how sick my son was. Her visit and that floppy frog did more to comfort and reassure me than anything else possibly could have. The ability to find humor in otherwise non-humorous situations has gotten me through some really difficult times. As it did with the half baby/half frog, if you let it, a little humor can take you out of the most painful situation, if only for a little while, and help you gain back perspective you may have lost. My advice for today is…go do something silly to make someone laugh, you never know how much it might mean to them.
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