There is nothing in this world more precious than a well-timed fart joke.
Let me quickly tell you why lest I anger the deities of high comedy with my impudence.
On July 13th of this year, in the midst of my husband’s final days, as he began the It Really Is Happening, NOW part of dying, an adorable penguin whom I had loved with a passion like the heat of a thousand stars, woke up from a very, very long nap.
That day, after twenty-five years, Berkeley Breathed revived his comic strip Bloom County via his Facebook page. Evidently, the most popular comment in response was, “And suddenly the world is back in alignment. Thank you Sir.” That is exactly how I felt.
I don’t know if it’s ever fully possible to describe the experience of helping someone die. It is its own kind of midwifery, an attendance to the needs of someone who is returning back to the life they had before birth. Everything that feels familiar or normal or regular gets turned in for massive uncertainty and often confusion. Luckily the demands of the moment kept me focused and my intuition was strong. But I felt completely untethered most of the time.
But then Opus came back. And I felt some context to our lives was restored.
I think I read the strip eleventy-gazillion times. I could feel my entire body relax every time I did. I don’t know what surprised me more, that I could feel so elated in the midst of such deep suffering, or that something so fortuitous and lovely was actually happening in real time. I cried big fat happy tears sitting there at my computer, tears that pressed themselves out of me like I had literally sprung a leak. Tears that had been released from their holding pen awaiting that stray moment when I returned to my heart’s deepest center, thoroughly full of wonder.
I hadn’t felt that way in a long time.
I immediately got my hands one of the old compilations so I could read it from the beginning to 11 and 13. It was a freaking miracle! What better way to invoke the spirit of silliness and fun during such a dire time, than by reading a comic strip that took its duty to lampoon institutions, icons, and pop culture very very seriously?
One thing about wearing the three-cornered hat of helping my husband die, trying to help my kids through it, and trying to remember to stay alive myself, is that the sacrilegious became even more thoroughly appealing. It was a way to shout, “Hey! Death! Over here (*flips Death the bird on both hands)! You don’t scare me, Asshole (*moons Death)!”