Last night I was thinking about a friend that passed away recently. I was just thinking about his life, and who he was, and I just couldn't help but wish. I just wish so much for his own sake, for everyone's sake, that he could be here again. I wish that I could run into him on the street, I wish that his family could see his face again. The wish is like a thorn of hope in my side, bristled with a thousand plywood splinters of sadness.
To paraphrase Stephen Gaskin, in his book Monday Night Class, laughter is an absurd, non-linear reaction to an absurd, non-linear series of events. A man is walking down the street, the man slips and launches into a pratfall, limbs akimbo, look of utter shock on his face. There is no way to predict the second event from the first event, it does not follow. We react with a wordless, gutteral laugh at this unexpected hilarity. This is not to express pleasure at his embarrassment, but rather a child-like delight in randomness and unity of chaos.
I believe the same is true of crying, it is the same absurd reaction. A man is walking down the street, the man slips and cracks his skull on the curb, and suddenly he is dead and there is brain matter splattering the cross-walk. We react with a wordless, gutteral sob at this unexpected tragedy. We react with a child-like fear of the randomness and disparity of chaos.
A friend once remarked on the length and depth of proper grief. There is a socially acceptable time for sympathy and caseroles, but beyond this time grief becomes a personal and quiet affair. Its length and depth are impossible to share. Even after the sadness stops, the absurdity remains, and may never go away. I fear when I am old, decades from now, I may still carry this wish around, to reverse that which makes no sense. Some of us take comfort in the possibility of heaven, some in the forgetfulness of time. And some of us carry our ghosts around forever, like watchful parrots on shoulders of pirates.