When I awoke Thursday morning to see a mountain of snow in my front yard, and no power once again in my house, I pulled out my phone, started snapping photos, and updated my Facebook status. I wrote this: "Dear God, We are very sorry about Snooki, JWow, and the Situation. You have made your point. Please stop now. Sincerely, the real Jersey Shore."
Within an hour I had dozens of family and friends "liking" my status and commenting on it. Then the inevitable comment. "Oh man, too soon."
Which left me thinking, is it too soon for the Jersey Shore to laugh at ourselves?
I thought about that famous Saturday Night Live episode after 9/11, when Lorne Michaels asked Mayor Rudy Giuliani, “Can we be funny?," prompting Giuliani to respond, “Why start now?”
Then I thought about everything I had seen, heard and done in the past few days. How a friend and colleague called to tell me Sandy had leveled his Beach Haven West home, and how I wept after I hung up the phone for him and so many of my other friends and family who had felt Sandy's wrath.
I thought about how I turned the music off every time I drove over the Causeway to Long Beach Island this week, because it felt disrespectful if I didn't. This was such a strange thing for me to do, because usually, before Sandy, I would crank the volume and sing Jimmy Buffet tunes as I drove over the Causeway.
I recalled the sadness I felt in these past few days as I saw many of the places along the island I have ate, drank, and enjoyed over the years damaged by the beautiful - yet as has been demonstrated in recent weeks - sometimes dangerous sea.
Then I thought about a Facebook status I posted just about a year ago - November 19 to be precise. November 19 marks an important day for me. It marks the anniversary of the day that I was struck by HELLP syndrome in my 24th week of pregnancy. For those of you that don't know, HELLP stands for three features of the syndrome: hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count. Those three factors worked against me, and robbed me of my son. I have never written about this stage of my life, because talking about it is difficult, and writing about it is an agonizing process.
I mention it because of my status update on November 19, 2011, which was this: "Six years ago was one of the toughest days of my life. I wondered if I would make it through a very difficult time and prayed for a time machine so that I could get a look ahead 5 or 6 years to see how I would be and if I would be happy and smiling again. Yesterday, I laughed at myself for tripping over my own two feet, got a nice compliment from a supervisor, and really enjoyed singing along with the Waitresses song Christmas Wrapping. Lesson learned - things always get better, you will smile again, and you can find real and beautiful happiness even after your life gets shattered into a million pieces."
I share this story because the message seems particularly important now. Yes, Jersey Shore, it seems like we are shattered right now. But it's OK to laugh. In fact, many say that laughing is the first step back to normalcy after a tragedy. So laugh if it feels ok to laugh. Sing along to the Waitresses and smile, because how can you not smile at at this line: "When what to my wondering eyes should appear, in the line is that guy I've been chasing all year."
Also, know that even though we will never quite be the same, we will find our happiness again, as long as we continue to lean on and help each other.