I was 32. My favourite auntie had been only two years older when she died of breast cancer decades earlier. And here I was in my early thirties, just months after finding out I couldn’t have children, and now in the Ottawa Women’s Breast Health Clinic. I’d discovered a mass in my left breast weeks before and we needed to find out if it was cancer. I was petrified. The lump seemed huge. It had to be removed. On this particular day, they would take a sample of the lump with a needle. I sat alone in the small room, trying to steady my breath, and had no clue what my future would be.
In the room with me was a book: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I’d never read it. It was my spouse’s copy. The doctor seemed to be taking forever. I opened the book.
And from the hallways I’m sure nurses and other staff were wondering why such boisterous laughter burst from the small examining room. By the time the doctor claimed me, I was nearly in tears from laughing.
A funny book made me forget all about my fears for a moment, and helped me get through a petrifying experience. (It was a big but benign tumour in the end, just fyi.) The power of well-written humour had taken me over completely.
In 2014, I sent a few chapters of my comedy sci-fi, Life in the ‘Cosm, to a friend for their opinion. Their spouse was admitted to hospital for a scheduled surgery. My friend was so frightened for her, despite assurances from doctors that the procedure was routine. Well, in the waiting room, they opened my baby manuscript and started reading it. And then told me they laughed and laughed in that hospital. (Their spouse is okay, by the way. Very bonny and braw.)
When I found out I made someone laugh the way Douglas Adams had made me laugh—in the worst of circumstances—I felt honoured. Laughter can be an elixir for the soul. I truly believe that.
I manage a disability that involves chronic pain and constant fatigue. And in that state I completed my book. And it’s a silly little book at times. But I made myself laugh. (I made myself weep, too, but SPOILERS!) It was such great fun to complete that project. And now that it’s published, I hope it brings a little snickering into your life, right when you need it.
Imma keep writing the funnee stuff. The world needs more funnee. At the very least, I do.
To those who write humorous sketches, scripts, cartoons, short stories, novellas, and/or novels, I thank you. You are joy bringers. Keep it up, peeps. I rely on you!
Cait Gordon is the author of Life in the ’Cosm, published by Renaissance Press. Available now!