Amy W. Jo

Philadelphia, PA

My life is 60% "Lifetime Movie of The Week" and 40% "National Lampoon's Vacation". Some real bad things have happened over the years, but there have always been moments of sardonic humor woven to help me through.

It's not that laughing helps me see the sunny side (ugh what a wretched thought), rather it's the darkness of sarcasm and irony that bubble through me to raise me to the surface. Once, I was attending a support group for grieving parents after the death of my son. People went around the room talking about how they were finding comfort in faith, that everything happened for a reason and how they felt their child's spirit always. The facilitator was thrilled, as they wrapped their pain up in a box and tied it with a pretty bow. When it was my turn I said, "I hate that my son died. It sucks. It will NEVER not suck. Do I understand suffering? Yup. Am I more compassionate? Sure. Have I learned things about myself and others? Of course. Would I rather be ignorant of all that and still have my kid? Hell yes! He's dead. I'm selfish. And this is bullshit." You could have heard a cricket fart. Deciding the best option was to outrun the angry mob; I stood up, snagged a cookie from the snack table, and bolted.

I started to realize, maybe the voice inside my head said things that other people's head voices didn't say or were afraid to say. Grief stripped me of my desire to filter myself. I was too split open to feel any threat of being exposed as dark, angry, or inappropriate. I was a grieving mother, I had a free pass to be crazy! I could have gone all Britney Spears- shaved head, umbrella attack, and fake British accent. People would have said is, "Don't know how she is even getting through. Maybe we should organize a casserole calendar. You know everything happens for a reason."

To me it was freeing. So, I started telling my truth. The good, the really bad, and the hysterically funny. The surprising part was that I found a lot of smart, funny, amazing people that got me. People that laughed at me and with me. My truth can be gritty, with sharp edges, and stripped down insights. More gansta rap than adult contemporary. More Ice-T than Michael Bublé. Yes, I just compared myself (a 38 year old, suburban, soccer mom) to one of the Godfathers of Thug Life- deal with it. But for me, in all of life's chaos and suffering, survival is just a matter of finding the funny.