Life can be hard. Really hard. Author Nora McInerny Purmort had a miscarriage. And then her dad died of cancer. And then her husband died of cancer. All in a matter of weeks.
She wrote a book about it called It's Okay to Laugh (Crying Is Cool Too). Which is good, because I laughed a lot, and I also cried. She is a very funny writer who is honest in the little things (she still wears her retainer), so we know we can trust her in the big ones (what it feels like when everything falls apart).
What I really appreciated about this book is that she acknowledges that life is both funny and tragic, but she doesn’t use the funniness to gloss over the tragedy. Life is not less tragic because it is funny, and it is not less funny because it is tragic, it is fully both/and.
Because Nora gets that, she doesn’t waste time looking for bright sides or silver linings or God’s super secret plan in all of this. She has the grace and the good sense to just let the hard things be hard. In a recent blog post she wrote:
Hard things are hard, and while they can someday teach you a lesson or make you a stronger person, they are entirely capable of just beating the everloving shit out of you and leaving you emotionally dead and physically exhausted.
Which is obviously awful and not fun. But for me it is less awful than going through suffering and feeling obligated to pretend that I’m cool with it because I’m going to become a better person or something.
But that doesn’t mean this book is all doom and gloom. Far from it. Remember, it’s okay to laugh! The world is still a beautiful place, even when things are terrible. And this book is about the terribleness of cancer, but it is more about the beautiful love story of Nora and her husband Aaron. It was actually the beauty that made me cry more than the awfulness. They loved each other so much, and Nora captures that love in all of its weird, funny specificity.
So if you want to read a book that will produce the full spectrum of emotions in your heart, I highly recommend this one. If you’re going through a really hard time and are looking for fellow-travelers, few will be this funny. And if you too still wear your retainer from high school, you will have found yourself a soulmate. (I did not, because I stopped wearing my retainer at age 28, when I got married, because I am quitter. But Nora also understands that sometimes you just need to quit things, so we might still be soulmates after all).