Valentine’s night

It is Valentine’s night, and I am on overnight shift as the on-call chaplain.

I print out kids’ jokes to give to staff as I make my rounds, sheer silliness to lighten the night.

What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t come back? A stick!

What kind of shorts do clouds wear? Thunderpants!

One technician tells me he will share the joke with his patients as he wakes them to check vital signs.

As I walk off one floor, the nurses at the station are already sharing theirs with one another, giggling at the corniness.

A smile is on my lips when a trauma code beeps on my pager.

Suicide. Family not present. No chaplain support needed

–not yet at least.

As I read, my hand clutches the jokes in my pocket, each one printed on a strip of paper,

flimsy and thin, perhaps irreverent, in this moment.

And yet…

I grip them tighter and head to another unit.

I will share laughter for at least a few more minutes,

not to make light of tragedy, nor to ignore it,

but to remember that just as we partake together in joy

so we can also do joint journey through sorrow,

and it is more bearable borne together.

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