Friday, January 18, 2013


Some of my favorite times are when I get to just be quiet and listen. My favorite thing to listen to? My kids, of course. Right now Tommy and Jain are playing some game involving lava, portals, and a store.

The other evening Jain and I were lying on my bed while she put lotion on my arms. This sounds sweet but really it's her way of getting me to do it to her legs, arms and back. She knows how to get what she wants. And she uses A LOT of lotion so I'm glad to rub in the excess to her tootsies. While she massages my arms, she just chats. No breaks, no interruptions, but a whole lot of gasps and hair swinging. This is what I heard this time:

"Can you help me find a husband who is nice and kind and I like his face? I want to get married in the Temple because I want to stick together forever. Will you come to my wedding? I will have two boys named Reagan and Tommy (just like we have a boy Tommy in our family) and a girl named uh...Angeela. I need a girl to hang out with and do girl stuff with. Then you will be sad because you have no kids. You will talk in church and I will come hear you."

Sounds okay to me, especially helping to pick her husband. That will most likely change, I know. It didn't work out so well on Shrek II when Fiona's dad tried that.

Another favorite thing to listen to? My sweet husband telling me all about his day, his work buddies, what the boys said in their bedtime prayers, etc. But last night he decided to tell me all this -mixed with (to him) hilarious jokes and some late night deep thoughts- after we had turned out the lights and I was on the brink of sleep. Finally after midnight I burst out laughing and told him to please go to sleep.

So I guess my liking to listen has it's limits.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Laughter is the Best Medicine

I was recently at dinner with family that I sadly, rarely see. Aleq happened to say something about his strokey mom and I laughed and rolled my eyes. Roberts sister-in-law was a little startled and asked, "So you are at a point where you can laugh about it?"

It got me thinking that not everyone would think my humor is appropriate. Honestly, there is NOTHING funny about a stroke. Brain damage is no laughing matter and the effects of the stroke have devastated and altered my life and the lives of my family, friends, and people I have never even met.

It's not funny that I can't go out of my home when it is snowy or windy or even too cold. It's not funny that I can never sing again. It's not funny that I can't volunteer in my children's classes for parties. It's not funny that Robert still gets anxiety about getting the mail every day and receiving more and more medical bills. And that is not even scratching the surface of what isn't funny.

However, since I was little my family has used humor to get us through some pretty sad times. It lightens the mood when it threatens to smother us, and has allowed us to feel that there can still be happiness in dismal situations and that we can and will triumph over terrible things.

When I first had my stroke, nobody even smiled for days. There were many tears and frowns and frankly, it terrified me. Every long face might mean bad news and more sadness that (founded or not) I felt responsible for.

A few days after the stroke, I started counting in my head, how long it had been since Robert and I had been intimate. I don't know why but it seemed important. I then signed the total number of weeks to Robert. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that we were not alone and my mom got all my info, too. She and Robert both burst out laughing and he commented that his mother-in-law was the last person he wanted knowing about our sex life.

From then on it was okay to laugh again. It was almost like that first breath after being under water for too long.

For me, humor reduces the power that the stroke has over me. It makes situations seem less big and scary. It helps my children see that my strokiness is not something to fear or that defines me. We laugh and then move on. I find that with grown ups as well as children, laughter can bring normality to a strange and uncomfortable situation.

Once when I was attempting something in therapy, and failing for about the hundred and second time, I sighed, rolled my eyes, and laughed. My therapist, Tim, asked, "Do you think this is funny?" I replied that I can either laugh or cry, take your pick.

Sometimes it is that simple. Either laugh or cry. MOST of the time I choose to laugh.