Our fourth grade class paraded through the tunnel connecting our parochial school to the church, marched down a side aisle and climbed the stairs to the church balcony. It was our turn to sing at a funeral and had been well coached on reverent behavior.
Carmen and I sat in the front row and peered over the rail at the coffin up front. Below us sat a very hefty woman wearing a hat topped with artificial flowers. As the organist played the first hymn, Rock of Ages, she became overwrought and as her head shook, her hat trembled along with her bulk.
We glanced at each other, raised our eyebrows, eyes wide and smirked. Our sharp-eyed teacher, Mrs. Fox, noticed and glared, but it was too late. Our smirk turned into a smothered hic-cup and our chests heaved with constrained chuckles. We struggled for control, but at that moment the grieving mourner began audibly sobbing, her immense body heaving. Her hat’s flowers magically bounced up and down as though riding out an earthquake.
I clapped my hand over my mouth to check my laugh and a snort escaped. Several classmates noticed and giggled. The organ drowned out the balcony ruckus, but we knew the hymn was almost over and fought for decorum. The boy behind me kicked the back of my seat and that set Carmen and me off again. The entire class was now in the grip of mass hysteria as they valiantly sought to suppress their snickers.
Mrs. Fox had absolutely lost control over her raucous class and when the hymn and organ abruptly stopped, the mourners were treated to a convulsion taking place in the gallery. Oh, Lordy, it was our turn to sing and half of us rallied. The uncontained half averted their eyes from our glowering teacher and doubled up, shoving their fists into their mouths.
Several weeks later Mrs. Fox announced, “I have received a note from the family where you sang at their mother’s funeral.”
As we hunched down in our seats, waiting for the deserved reprimand, she read, “We so appreciated the children singing at Mother’s funeral. We were especially touched at how tearful and sympathetic they were.”
Apparently, it was difficult to distinguish between laughter and sobbing. Fortunately, the family hadn’t noticed irreverent and appalling our class had acted.
But you know…I’m betting this has happened to you. Although you know it’s inappropriate to find humor in a sad occasion, something touches your funny bone and you simply cannot contain escaping giggles. Am I right?