Sometimes I write this blog for very personal reasons. Joe and I do not take pictures of our life. We try every now and then to snap a photo but, after one or two, the camera sits with moldering batteries. A long while back we began to realize that this blog was kind of like our, written, photo album. It's where we keep memories. Most of the time I try to write things that I hope you, as the reader, will be interested in. Some of the time, like with the blog I'm about to write, I'm writing just because I want to remember something. A little moment that meant something to me. A moment that I might forget in a year or two. A moment that I want to surprise me a year from now when I randomly jump into the archives for something to read. It's kind of like sending a post card to myself in the future. A postcard with a picture on one side and the message, 'Don't forget you were here!' on the back.
The day before Gay Pride day we went to see a movie. Mike and Marissa went off to see 'X men' along with a Sadie who was engulfed by a serious nap. We took Ruby to see 'Mister Popper's Penquins'. Afterwards we went in search of street meat - Mike was craving a veggie dog from one of the vendors that work the streets. It was hard to think of where one was. Ruby, who was desperate for a ride on my wheelchair, asked 'If I was really, really, really, really tired, would you carry me?' At nearly five she has become convinced that her chance of success increases with the number of 'reallys' used. She noticed a small butterfly embroidered with semi precious stones on a velvet background that we have hanging off the fireplace. It was a gift. It's much nicer than it sounds. She looked at it and said, 'I really, really, really, really, like butterflies.' When she realized that the butterfly was staying in its place she looked not so much crestfallen but like she was castigating herself for leaving off another 'really' or two.
Anyways, the sidewalk was very quiet so I said I'd give her a ride, but only if she was 'really, really, really tired.' Her hands went up immediately and I lifted her up onto my lap. I suddenly began veering the wheelchair wildly towards a wall and screaming, 'Ruby, stop that, stop that right now!' Just before crashing into the wall, I veered off towards a garbage can, again, 'Ruby, you have to stop that, really, stop it.' She, being nearly five, thought this was very, very, and maybe even another very or two, funny. It started with a giggle and maybe a minute or two later she was convulsed with laughing as the wheelchair veered from one almost crash to another. I had hold of her across the waist, making sure she didn't slide off or fall. At one point she leaned back into me and laughed so hard I could feel her whole body shake with the humour of the situation. People who were watching were all either grinning or laughing themselves. It must have been a sight.
Ruby laughs with her whole body. When something strikes her as funny, she lets go, she has an unrestrained laugh. It's not graceful, in fact it's anything but. It's not petite, in fact it's quite the opposite. It's as far away from demure and shy as a laugh can possibly be. And it gives me great delight. Being able to make her laugh, being able to make anyone laugh, is such a wonderful gift. So my wheelchair veered from pillar to post, me screaming at her to stop steering us into near catastrophe her finally, when she got wind back yelling, 'BUT I'M NOT DOING ANYTHING!!!'
It was just a moment, a collection of moments, soon the sidewalk filled and it was no longer safe. We settled to a more discrete and decorous way to make our way to the vendors. As we settled down and Ruby's face relaxed to just a grin, my mind flashed ...
It was at the board room of Vita, someone was passing around a dessert, and I was turning it down. I'd recently been diagnosed with diabetes, Manuela, a Type One girl, was kind of a coach for me in the first few months. She said, 'You know you can have a piece of pie every now and then, just don't eat the whole pie.' I looked at her, incredulous, and said, 'Hello, Manuela, I'm Dave, I don't believe we've met.' She got my inference immediately and laughter burst out of her. It was a huge, unrestrained laugh. It was a moment where the hierarchy of the office was abandoned and we were just two people laughing at something very, very, and maybe a couple more vey's, funny. A big huge laugh - shared, kind of cemented how we'd come to work with each other.
I like big laughers. Ron Shearer, someone who became like a Dad to me many years ago, would become incapacitated by trying to tell a joke he found funny. The punch line would hit him long before it came out of him. He'd collapse with laughter, tears streaming down his face. We all laughed way, way more at the telling of the joke than the joke itself. In those moments there was such a union.
Ron and Manuela are gone now. But those moments of laughter, even though we had other moments - serious moments, triumphant moments, heartbreaking moments, were the glue to the relationship. I have always believed that in laughter there is a loss of self and a loss of identity. In laughter there is a kind of joining - almost spiritual. Even when sitting in the dark, in the theatre, laughing at a movie, there are moments when the audience, suddenly, stops being 100 different people and becomes simply one. United in a moment of hilarity.
Some see heaven as an eternal place of sunshine and calm and constant praise.
I have felt eternity. I have felt deep union. I have shared moments of infinity. And each time I've felt these things, its been when self dissolves, not into piousness or righteousness, but into laughter.
When it is done here for me. When I'm given a small travelling case into which I can pack a trinket or two. I'm pretty sure I'm going to take Ruby's wheelchair ride, Manuela's pie, Ron's joke ... and put them alongside Joe's lifetime of laughter. And I'll be ready for heaven's gate.