Marina Gomberg: Distracted from despair, how love and giggles keep us moving

Sometimes a warm hug, or air instruments, can remind us of who we are.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Marina Gomberg.

You know those cartoon characters who have their own private little rain cloud that follows their every move? I think that might be me lately. I’ve been feeling a bit down.

Like right now, I’m looking out my window and the sun is illuminating the leaves in my front yard, which are currently a veritable cornucopia of remaining green, bright yellow and a deepening red; that best contrast against the vibrant blue Utah sky. But I’m inside. Soggy somehow. Muted and monochrome.

It’s decorative gourd season, but I’m not feeling very gourd-eous at all.

Despite my best efforts and smart, compassionate medical care, I can’t get my immune system to stop acting a fool. The result is ongoing discomfort and degeneration, more crappy meds, continued isolation, weight gain and a general feeling of ennui and malaise.

Crackle of thunder

The shift from being a relatively healthy and capable person to this new delicate flower of inflammation and risk has been about as smooth as my first attempt at driving my mom’s white 1991 stick shift Subaru.

Lots of lurches. Mild whiplash. Shock and awe that it’s so tricky.

Even the smallest hills have me questioning my capacity.

It leaves me with these moments where, even as a deeply agnostic person, I want to look up to the sky and scream, “WHY ME!? What did I do to deserve this?”

Downpour and wet socks

But almost every time I find myself in these flashes of despair, I get yanked back to reality by my people. Sometimes it’s my 5-year-old, Harvey, wrapping his arms around me and burrowing his face in my body for comfort because sometimes he feels “sad in [his] tummy and just needs a Mimi hug.” Sometimes it’s my wife, Elenor, playing air instruments so seriously that I can’t help but giggle until my sides hurt.

Other times, it’s my sister’s genuinely curious daily check-ins. Or my parents’ offer to host us, cook for us and play with our kidlet.

We had plans with some friends last weekend who we hadn’t seen in a long time, and I was so scared to be in their presence looking like the girl who ate Marina.

But at one point, my friend put a hand on my chest and the other on her own, and reminded me that it’s who I am inside that they were glad to see — and it had nothing to do with my outward appearance or level of health.

Clouds start to part

I don’t remember feeling gratitude as deep as these times when I’m floating off into the fogs of gloom and then am tugged by tethers of love back to the ground. And more often than not, it’s by Elenor — the love of my life who somehow has endless smiles, foot rubs, jokes and tolerance for my ups and downs.

“Oh, hi. I’m back. What’d I miss?”

The truth is, my people haven’t let me miss a thing. They’ve never let my hand slip away from theirs, and they’ve even offered a hand to my new lifetime grief buddy.

We’re all there together in the complex mess of love and loss.

And that’s when I notice the rainbow.

Marina Gomberg is a professional communicator, a practicing optimist and a lover of love. She lives in Salt Lake City with her wife, Elenor Gomberg, and their son, Harvey. You can reach Marina at mgomberg@sltrib.com.