A friend of mine just faced the agonizing decision to euthanize her beloved cat. I recall having faced similar experiences with various pets over the years, absolutely gut wrenching.

This got me thinking about life and the connections we make as a series of hellos and goodbyes. From the celebration of a birth, to greeting a friend, a loved one and from meeting new people to saying goodbye temporarily or to that ultimate forever goodbye. Since we are pretty clueless as to when the last time will be (luckily!), that’s probably a good thing because we would be stressing about it all the time, worried about the future, not being able to enjoy the present.

It’s a fact that we don’t always appreciate what we have until it’s gone- the loss of a loved one (animal, vegetable or human). Even that last spoon of chocolate mousse. The delicate texture and sweetness on your tongue. Sure it may add to your waistline but it was so worth it. Then, it becomes just another memory. Bittersweet.

We all know that we will be experiencing inevitable loss during our lifetime so the here and the now, YOLO thinking makes perfect sense.

We arrive in this world with nothing except hopefully the love and adoration of our parents. If we are fortunate enough to feel nurtured and cared for, we can thrive more easily.

Here I am! Spotlight on little me. Connection to self. Learning to understand how to get people’s attention, how to make my needs heard and how to figure out this strange new world. The wonder of discovery and the pleasure of experimentation and mischief. The delight of trying new things. Seeing, touching, hearing, tasting and feeling things for the very first time. Pure laughter and joy. Interactions with family and strangers. Making friends. Learning about trust. From pureed bananas to Bananas Foster.

Evolving from baby to toddler, child to adolescent and then often turning into stressed adults. We grow, learn and play, work and make plenty of mistakes along the way. Hopefully we brush ourselves off and keep forging ahead, despite the trip ups, the pain, the set backs. Luckily there are also many successes and celebrations in the process.

We develop many types of relationships with family, friends, pets, people in our social circles, to nature, to collections of inanimate objects, whatever we attach importance to. We chose to give meaning to these people/things because of the powerful memories attached to those stories. It’s incredible to see what remains stuck in the recesses of our brains and what we are able to retrieve from our memory banks. Over time, we may lose contact to people, relationships will change, friendships will deepen or weaken. Such is the stuff and fluff of life.

Among my most powerful memories are the ones where I shared laughter. Times when we relaxed into the laughter and it just flowed. No explanation needed. I’m talking pre pre-Laughter Yoga memories. But that’s exactly what today’s Laughter Yoga can achieve, that special feeling of connection, unconditionally, all over again. Feeling cranky and creaky? Here’s some laughter to grease the wheels of life.

Standing in my garden a few evenings ago as I was pruning my overgrown oakleaf hydrangeas, I heard a familiar voice. The voice of my father-in-law, who we lost due to COVID-19 in November. He was a complex character who suffered greatly in his life but also experienced peaceful and happy moments. During his depressions and due to his fragile temperament, he was not an easy personality to be around and he became very insistent. I heard Guy reprimanding me in his usual way, shaking his finger and his head and saying: ”Ahhh Alexa…., you have been neglecting these bushes. Why have you not been doing a better job looking after them? What a mess! ” and I responded out loud and in French: “ Yes, Guy, you are absolutely right. I love you and miss you so much!” If anyone would have seen me, they would have wondered if I was crazy, talking to myself out there like that.

Guy’s hydrangea bushes were lovingly tended to and masterfully pruned, with big blooms the size of my head. I would marvel at them and take tons of pictures and he was the only person allowed to take cuttings for bouquets and knew exactly how to pamper them. Savoring these memories, I laughed deeply, filling my garden with laughter sounds. I laughed from the heart , with gratitude and affection for Guy’s love over the years.

Of course I could have cracked open a good California red Cabernet in his honor because Guy also loved red wine and that was one of his favorites. I love red wine too and actually, I have proposed toasts in his honor but instead, I recommend a healthy choice. A dose of laughter. Why cloud my brain with alcohol when laughter can promote more clarity and relief?

I truly believe that Laughter Yoga can help us process pent up feelings and emotions and that release is exactly what I needed. Laughter helps me with my mourning process.

(Guy pictured with his magnificent hydrangeas.)