It never took much to make her laugh.
She said that her dad made her laugh all of the time and that she admired that in a man. A boyfriend. A husband.
“I want to marry someone that makes me laugh. Someone that I can laugh with.” That’s a lot of pressure. To perform. But it was never hard. It’s easy to make someone laugh that wants to. That doesn’t have any inhibitions to laughing. Someone whose soul is light.
That’s something that I never understood, still don’t. How do you go through life watching your mom waste away, become less aware, less present, less engaged, less interactive, and respond with levity. She always had an easiness about her. Easy to love. Easy to fall in love with.
Baggage scared me when it came time to date for real. There were girls with all of the typical stuff, the heavy stuff and it just scared me. But with Tiff there was never anything there to worry about. The inevitable baggage just never showed up. I waited for the shoe to fall and she always kept it on, balancing on two classy heels, dolled up, dressed to the nines. Baggageless.
We laughed a lot.
I can’t remember a day going by, for years, that we didn’t laugh. There was the time that we discovered her sleep walking. And the time that I walked in on her dressing up our dog in full outfits, setting a scene, and taking pictures- he was a chef, a baseball player, a clown- poor guy. The time that she got peed on in the face by one of our kids- I’ll let you guess which one. Or was that twice?
Once we were on a group date with 10 or 15 friends at Disney Village when I jumped into one of the theme pools fully clothed. She was so angry, “When are you going to grow up?” I looked at her like she was an alien.
“Are you serious right now? This is who I’ve always been. This what you get, take it or leave it.” And she started laughing. Not so much at the pool violation, at the person that she had just confused herself to be.
“I have no idea what I was thinking.” And she jumped in with me.
We laughed at the songs that she used to sing to me in her funny voice in the middle of the night. I would wake her from a dead sleep and say, “Sing” and she wouldn’t skip a beat- she’d start singing from the middle of a REM cycle. Who does that?
We laughed at all of the silly things that our kids said. We laughed at movies and plays. We laughed at weddings and at funerals. We laughed at life and life laughed back.
Our life was light. It was fun, it was funny. We’ve made a beautiful life together of easy.
Over the last few years, easy has been a little harder to find. Some days are so long and trying. But I’ve discovered something recently that I hadn’t seen in a while. Tiffanni has started laughing again. A lot. It takes a little work some days, but it’s there. It just takes a little effort. Every night after we go through our ever-lengthening bedtime routine, I sit down on the side of the bed and stare at her. And then ever-so-slightly, I furrow my brow, just enough that she notices. She tries to hold her smile like a game of Staredown, but I can always detect the nose flare. That’s her tell. I know what’s coming next. Some nights I can’t wait, so I just start tickling. Which is odd because she used to tell me how terrible I was at tickling. Now I can get her every time. She probably just has so many laughs backed up from the last several years, they’re bursting to come out.
I don’t know all of the emotions that will last for eternity, but I do know one. Buried so deep inside of her, guarded by all that is good, this damned disease can’t get to it. She laughs and defies it. A rebellion against all of hell. Some days just a smirk, others a tickle, and some a full on belly cackle. All of these other emotions that have wedged their way into our daily lives- fear and sadness, grief and anger, frustration and fatigue, sorrow and discouragement- they have a shelf life. Their time is limited. But laughter. It knows no end. It burrows its way from the ephemeral into eternity where it finds its permanent home. For now, it is the sole taste of the afterlife, the eternal life, that has made its way into our life. And this glimpse of eternity is easy. It’s light. And it’s good.