Sadness and giggles: Life’s awkward full blend

By gwyn stetler

Your Pastor Speaks

Jesus wept. Recently, a loved one was hospitalized for two weeks and came out with a blended diagnosis of atrial fibrillation (afib) and a sudden onset of dementia. In the midst of sadness, our family rallied to do what you do when someone you care about is suffering.

Although he has many high functioning days, he needed to spend time in a memory unit for further assessment. In this place, there were many people in late stages of memory loss. His roommate sat in a chair with virtually no movement, eye contact-head hanging low.

Friends came by and brought a basket of Easter chocolates. The person in our care ate one piece and left the rest in place for later, and our pod of people walked out to another part of the facility for conversation.

Upon our return to the room, the entire basket of treats was emptied, wrappers on the floor, and the roommate who had not engaged anyone in room previously, head still drooping, had chocolate over his entire face. With a burst of unexplained enlivenment, he was inspired to somehow consume the whole thing.

I imagine an iconic image of Jesus laughing in this moment.

Life is awkward and raw like this sometimes. Tears and giggles spewing out in a spontaneous mix that may seem wrongfully paired, but genuinely true to the moment.

To be truthful, we so needed that story, that mix of things. The chocolate smudged face in the Memory Care wing just may have been a reflection of a messy angel getting us through that rugged moment. This family fable endures with us.

Pastor gwyn stetler, co-pastor at Jubilee Mennonite Church, serves as executive director of Family Promise of Delaware County. Operating Promise House Delaware and Impact Station Marysville sites, her work family provides emergency shelter leading to stable housing while building communities and strengthening lives.