Laughter, pain and death..!

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As you read this, I will be on my way
for the funeral of my friend. A friend
for over thirty-five years of my life. Even as I write this, I hear his baritone voice cracking a joke, and chuckling even before I did, “You laugh at your own jokes!” I’d complain, “Well, someone’s got to laugh!” he’d say, and I’d smile.
But it was that laughter that hid the pain inside as he finally died of a broken heart. “Why didn’t you tell me she left?” I asked. “I wanted to,” he said, “But I felt you didn’t want to listen!” This was said to me a day before the open-heart surgery, from which he never recovered.
I thought about those last words as I heard of his death. We had met at my daughter’s wedding a few months before. He had driven all the way, as he always did, from a city four hours away. I know I’d greeted him, but even as we spoke, and he told me he was leaving right after the service as he didn’t want to drive back late in the night, my eyes were already far away, “You were so busy!” he said later on the phone. “I’m sorry,” I’m going to say silently as I see him lying suited in his casket. “For not listening and for giving you the impression I was too busy for you!”
Sometimes a quick joke hides a heavy heart. His was a death because of a botched bypass but there have been several notable comedian suicides that have shocked us. In 2014, Robin Williams hung himself, some others are Freddie Prinze, Tony Hancock, Richard Jeni and Max Linder, all who hid behind their laughter while crying inside.
Are there friends of yours laughing just now, cracking a joke, and you wonder how they go through life with so much joy? Maybe you need to look beyond the laughter, because many a laugh is a shield for despair they try to hide. Listen to them, not just to their jokes, but to telltale signs which somehow come through even in the middle of riotous laughter.
Many strong men and women, do not break down and cry. Many of them hide behind walls that fool all of us, but they are like walls of a film set, just props that are flimsy, funny and fragile. You know of a friend going through a divorce, fighting a serious illness, lost his or her job, or just lonely? Call him or her now, and listen even if you are busy. I didn’t, you can, and could save a life..!