Lighter Laughter


erin thomas -lighter laughter-3By Erin ThomasTwitter: @erinthomas_123

I was supposed to pick up some appetizer foods for our belated Christmas family dinner. Even in a small Alberta town, people had turned into crazed Boxing Day-SLASH-New Years’ shopping zombies, checking, returning, lining up, complaining, and lining up some more. I looped around the block to find a parking spot before heading into the grocery store.

There she sat.

On her usual bench outside the decaying movie theatre.


“Nope! No way. It’s family time, not work time. When we’re open again, June can come in and get coffee or food or a toothbrush. Until then, I’m drawing a line!” I gave myself every reason in the book to help stop the urgency that had begun to fill my stomach. Unable to still secure a parking spot, I told myself that I would loop around the block one more time. If June was still on her bench, I’d pull over.

I looped around the block.

June was still there.


I drove past the theatre and rolled down the window.

“Hey June!”

“Ohhh … hey!” she responded, not quite knowing who I was. She frowned, and then responded in a light of remembrance: “Oh hey, Erin! Merry Christmas! Got a light?”

Dressed in every stitch of clothing she owned, carting around all her private possessions, June made her way in the world by drifting between the big city and back. Rarely staying in any one place for long, June protected herself in her own ways from a world out to get her. Getting out of the car, I sat down next her on the bench.

“I don’t smoke, June. So, sorry, I don’t have a light for you.”

“C’mon, baby, light my fire! C’mon baby light my fire!” June started channeling The Doors at the word “light.”

Did I mention June knows every classic rock ’n roll song from the 1950s onward? By heart?

I began to laugh. It only ever took one word to get June singing. The Doors, Elvis, Michael Jackson, Joan Jett, The Beatles, it didn’t matter. Music was the air she breathed. Her singing melted me a little more. How could I go to a hot family dinner knowing June was sitting out here in the cold on a bench?

“Say, June! Got anywhere to go today?”

“It’s a beautiful day! Don’t let it get away! It’s a beautiful day…!”

She needed to finish channelling Bono before she was able to look at me, break out in a smile and agree to come. Packing up all of her stuff, she loaded herself into my tiny car and off we went. Unsure about how to proceed with more conversation, I fell back on the weather.

“We sure could do with a little more sun, hey June?”

“Waitin’! Waitin’ on a sunny daaaaay! Gonna chase the clouds away…” Good ol’ Bruce Springsteen.

Any misgiving or guilt I had been feeling dissipated, and I began to chuckle imagining how my family might respond to June’s musical approach to life. Yes, it was her situation that caused me to stop at her bench at the start. But who else in the world could sing any rock’n’roll song from the past five decades at a moment’s notice? She asks for a cigarette lighter, and the world gets music. How does that work?

We pulled up to my parents’ house and made sure all of June’s possessions were securely stowed. The world is full of darkness and sorrow and disappointment, and still she sings, I thought. I breathed a word of thanks as my mom and dad greeted us, and June whipped out a smoke and immediately asked:
“Gotta light?”


About Erin:

Erin ThomasErin Thomas is a Masters of Divinity student at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Saskatoon, intern hospital chaplain, and reluctant mystic. She’s also blogger, poet, and proud auntie to three adventuresome nephews. You can find her on FacebookTwitter and on her blog, Reluctant Mysticism.