January 15, 2021

Joyful Witness / Kimberly Pohovey

Sense of humor helps us cope in most trying times

Kimberly PohoveyI was still reeling from the news when my husband Mark and I left the doctor’s office. To make matters worse, Mark was still under the effects of the drug administered for a colonoscopy, and he kept asking me every 10 minutes what the doctor said.

I really did try to be patient at first as I repeated over and over what the doctor told us. But I was still trying to absorb the diagnosis myself. Mark was famished after his procedure, so we headed to our favorite Italian restaurant for lunch.

After we were seated, he asked me, for what seemed like the hundredth time, to repeat the doctor’s words. In what was arguably not my finest moment, I literally yelled, “You have cancer!”

I looked up just then to see the waitress standing over our table. She looked horrified, and quickly scampered back to the kitchen. Mark and I have laughed about this scene many times through the years. Every time I recall this scenario, I am reminded that God has a sense of humor. If there’s one thing I’ve learned through the years, it’s that we need to as well.

Fast forward 15 years. I was the one awaiting test results from a recent biopsy. The nurse called to deliver the news during my workday. Immediately, I called Mark at work because I needed to share the news with him as well. We played phone tag and when he returned my call, he did so from the noisy manufacturing floor of the plant where he worked.

I discreetly tried to tell him my news. After all, I was at work myself and didn’t exactly want to broadcast my personal issues to the rest of the office. But his response let me know he wasn’t hearing me correctly. He said a couple times, “So you don’t have cancer?” To which I was forced to reply, yelling once again, “I do have cancer!”

After our conversation concluded, I sat back in my chair, laughed and thought, “Really, God, the humor thing again?”

We might not appreciate humor in the throes of tragedy or stress, but I believe God places in our lives some well-timed comedy as a coping mechanism. I admit, I haven’t felt much like laughing since my breast cancer diagnosis about a month ago, but if my life experiences hold true to form, I know it will be faith and humor that see me through this latest challenge.

It makes me recall two instances from after our son’s passing many years ago. On the morning of his funeral, Mark and I came downstairs to see my father sitting in a rocking chair watching TV. I was perplexed when I saw what was on the screen. Without missing a beat, my Dad said, “Boy, I’ve seen everything now—they have pigs painting on TV.” Mark and I couldn’t help but chuckle. It was such an inane thing to say, and what’s more, uncharacteristic of something my Dad would be watching. But God knew we needed some levity at that exact moment.

Later, at the funeral home, Mark’s father and he were standing near our son’s casket and my father-in-law leaned over to Mark and said, “I’d rather be at the dentist.” Maybe not funny at the time, but we have laughed many times about this strange statement. I mean, how bad is his dentist that he’s comparing the two?

Leave it to our dads to provide this welcome comic relief. Leave it to God to know when we needed it.

(Kimberly Pohovey is a member of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis. She is the director of major and planned gifts for the archdiocese.) †

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