Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Laughter of Love

Marielle and I have shared this story so many times that I am certain it will go down through history as part of our family lore. So why, then, have I never shared it here? No clue.

But just this evening, Shoghi asked me about it, and after I told it to him again, he suggested that I write it here. And so, dear Reader, here it is: the story of love and laughter.

By now, if you are a regular reader of this poor author's thoughts on the Baha'i Faith and how they apply to his life, you are well aware of my deep and abiding love for my wife. As I was talking to my son, Shoghi, I asked him if he could imagine me without her. "Yes", he said, but he was also aware of just how lonely I would be. Then he asked me why I was laughing just after the two of us had gotten married.

You see, dear Reader, a few weeks after our wedding, Marielle and I came home one afternoon and were fairly tired. We plopped down on the bed, and just lay there, next to each other, on the blankets. We were probably well on the way to falling asleep, when I realized just how happy I was to be married to this wonderful soul lying next to me. It is not for nothing that I often introduce myself, when she is there, by saying "I have the bounty of being her husband."

Well, this sudden realization of happiness made me smile. (Ain't that sweet?)

What happened from there can only be described as a cascading effect. Perhaps "avalanche" would be a better word.

When I realized that I was smiling because I was so happy at the thought of being married to her, that realization made me smile even more. Of course, then I realized that I was smiling even more because I realized that I was smiling because of my joy at being her husband, and that made me smile even more than more. And then I realized that I was smiling even more than more because I realized that I was smiling even more because I was smiling because of my joy at being her husband, and that made my smile so big that it metamorphosed into laughter.

And that's when it all began to take a turn... well not for the worse, but just a turn.

Because, you see, dear Reader, when I realized that I was so happy at being her husband that I was even laughing for joy, I began to laugh even more, which made me even more happy which made me laugh even harder, which made me realize that I had severely underestimated the exact degree of my joy which made me laugh even harder than before which... You get the idea.

Except for one thing.

You are probably imagining me laughing aloud while lying on the bed, with my wife wondering what was so funny.

But that's not it at all.

You see, there are many different ways that people laugh, as Mary Poppins and Burt pointed out in the movie of her name. Some people let out a blasting guffaw, while others only titter and flit like a little bird. Some snicker, while others give a hearty laugh from deep within their belly. There are those who let out a little chuckle, as if enjoying some mildly amusing personal witticism, and others who continue to burble and bubble with the laughter welling up deep inside them, unable to stop for love or money. But not me.

Below are just a few examples, and I recommend continuing reading with the laughter in the background.

I don't do any of those.

My laughter, unless I am conscious of it and able to change it, is silent. Dead silent. If I were laughing in a room with a blind person, they would never know I was laughing, except they would probably begin to wonder why I am suddenly so quiet. I am the sort of person that people love to have in the movie theatre during a particularly funny scene, because they can still hear what is going on. Yup. That's me.

Oh, and it's not that I don't give any signs of laughter, just that's audibility is not one of them.

So what signs do I give, you ask? I'm glad you did. I go through all the physical motions of laughter, including the broad smile on my face, the tearing in the eyes, and the shaking of the body.

Please place the emphasis on the last: the shaking of the body.

That is probably the most obvious sign.

So there we were, lying peacefully on the bed together, minding our own business, relaxing after a tiring day, when all of a sudden Marielle feels the bed starting to shake, almost as if there were a light tremor within the earth. Now anyone who lives in a city is familiar with this effect, usually due to a large truck rumbling by outside. It often passes after a moment or two, and we no longer think about it.

But this trembling went on. And, to her concern, it began to get worse.

After a few more moments, she realized that the source of this trembling was not, in fact, deep within the earth, or the result of a fleet of trucks going past our window in a convoy, but due to the presence of her newly married partner, her espousal unit for all of eternity, which may have suddenly been seeming a lot longer than previously imagined.

By this point I had realized that I was so overjoyed at the thought of being married to her that I was laughing hysterically that I began to laugh even harder, which moved the shaking aspect of the laughter from merely residing in my shoulders to my entire upper body.

Which was when Marielle began to get seriously concerned. "Did he", she wondered, "forget to tell me that he has some sort of medical condition, like epilepsy?" And being the dutiful wife that she is, she asked, "Are you ok?"

Which I thought was hilarious.

Which made me laugh even more.

Which made her even more concerned.

Which I thought was even more hilarious.

Which made me laugh even more than more.

Which made her seriously consider calling an ambulance.

Which I thought was even more hilariouser.

I'll tell you, dear Reader, I never had to struggle so hard in my life as at that moment, when I had to control my laughter just enough to be able to tell her, as best I could, that I was only laughing. I really was ok. There was no need for an ambulance. Or for her to stick a wallet in my mouth.

Now, I'm sure I didn't say anything nearly that coherent, but she did begin to get the idea that this was not in the realm of a physical abnormality. Mental abnormality maybe, but not physical.

Even after telling her that all was ok, she was still kind of wondering. In fact, I'm certain that she is still wondering about it to this day.

But that's all right. Laughter and joy have just added more to our relationship, and for that I am very grateful. I hope that it lasts until the end of my days.

Actually, I hope it becomes the end of my days, sort of like Nabil of Qa'in, of whom the Master wrote of his passing, "He was sitting up, and conversing. He was radiant, laughing, joking, but for no apparent reason the sweat was pouring off his face -- it was rushing down. Except for this he had nothing the matter with him. The perspiring went on and on; he weakened, lay in his bed, and toward morning, died."

Yeah. That would be a good way to go. Laughing hysterically, radiant and joking, with my great-grandchildren by my side.

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