Not Yet Dearly Departed
Laughter, of course, is the best medicine, and some studies even show humor is a biological stress reliever. Sadness and mirth just can't coexist in the same mental space at the same time. "If I don't laugh, I will cry" is all too human. As Buchwald sees it, many humorists use it as therapy to block out periods of hurt or anger. In his case, it was his lonely childhood without a mother, knocking around orphanages and foster care.
You would not know there were hurts or anger judging by his hospice time. Friends and family smothered Buchwald with love. VIPs, from Mike Wallace to Arnold Schwarzenegger, beat a path to the hospice door. And they all came bearing food, lots of cheesecake. ("What else do you do when you go to hospice?") He thrived. But something else clicked at hospice. One volunteer told him there were two kinds of patients, the ones who are ready to go home-heaven, that is-and the ones who want to go to the office. Buchwald wanted to go to the office. After he planned his funeral, pallbearers and all, he became a philosopher, pondering the ultimate question. The answer was easy. He was put on Earth to make people laugh. "So I started up writing again and found I could write wonderfully."
And what started out as a deathwatch turned into "months of living, eating, and laughing with my friends." Perhaps as important, Buchwald is now teaching all of us how to liveand to die. Yet he's quick to add, "I have had such a good time at the hospice. I am going to miss it."