I didn’t realize it at first. It dawned slowly as I stared unblinking at it. Three little words but they were all mine. They were all I had ever wanted. My name. An actual byline. In print.
That was 20 years ago. Since then I’ve seen it in newsprint, glossy magazine pages, slick media websites and my own shoddily constructed blog site, Chick Writes Stuff. All these years later, I still feel a bit of a thrill when I see it.
But this is my last one. I’m ending my humor column.
No one is more surprised than I am. I planned to write my last column on my deathbed. Laughing defiantly until the end.
But as the old saying goes, humor is tragedy plus time. And there is no time anymore. It’s all just one tragedy piled on top of another piled on top of another. There doesn’t even seem time to take a breath let alone process the broken world that won’t stop fracturing.
Which is funny because that’s how all this got started. As a preteen I was overwhelmed by everything. Every day felt like the world was ending. I’d lay awake at night, trying to think of all the awful things that could happen because I believed if I thought of it first it couldn’t happen in real life. Because I was an 11-year-old girl and the only power I had was superstition.
And then, like a deus ex machina by way of Florida, I discovered Dave Barry. I devoured every column of his I could get my eyes on. It was remarkable. Possibly even witchcraft. He taught me that if you could make fun of something, if you could laugh at it, it lost some of its power.
This was doubly true when you could find a way to laugh at yourself. Laughter seemed to quiet the inner demons.
I wanted to wield that magic like he did and make the world a slightly less awful place. To be a tiny flicker of levity, no matter how inconsequential, in the crushing darkness.
But I can no longer write my way out of this darkness. I’ve tried. I’ve sat down before my computer every day for months. Whatever does manage to come out is forced. I am too angry. Bitter. Sad. I didn’t realize how much faith in humanity I had until I lost most of it.
And without hope I can’t find the humor anymore.
I wish I had a better exit than this. I mean, 20 years. Half of my life. This dream job of mine deserves a proper eulogy.
But honestly I just want to get this last one over with. It hurts too much to linger.
And so, let me end this ending by saying it has been my immense privilege writing for you, whoever you are out there reading this. I was never hugely popular, only ever with a small following (and even then that is stretching that concept to its limit) as I moved across this country over the years. But I loved it, all of it, none more so than when someone told me I made them laugh. I cannot thank you enough for reading so I won’t even try.
And to my editors, I still can’t quite believe I found actual live human beings to publish my words. Thank you all for letting me live out my fantasy. Especially to Editor Bob, my Bobbert, Bob Robinson, the man who gave me my very first column when I was 20. And especially to my editors over the years at the Victoria Advocate, who will be publishing my last as I am on the cusp of 40. You took a chance on me. You believed in me. Every writer deserves editors like you. Every person deserves people like you in their corner.
I hope one day to write again. To laugh again. To type something immeasurably witty about the Grim Reaper right before he takes me.
But for now I just…
…don’t know how to end that sentence anymore.
You know how much I respect you and admire your talent (even with a tinge of jealously at being able to make life seem livable). Your musings will be missed, though I have a feeling that at some point, likely near a volcanic-like eruption, you’ll bless us with your gift again. Sonny
Oh dearest Aprill,
I don’t know what to say…
I am not sure when I first discovered your column, but it was several years ago. I remember reading it out loud to my husband, in bed (!)
We both laughed and I was so happy to find you.
I have laughed with you and cried with you.
I have walked through your parenting journey with you, even as my own “children” have become adults.
You reminded me of the joys, the turmoil, the reality of babies and toddlers, pre-schools and parks.
Your children are blessed to have you as their Mum. I hope you believe that.
I will miss you and our little conversations; I will miss your insights.
I will miss you.
This has been an interminable year; so much grief, loss, sadness and anger. Here in the UK we are still in strict lockdown, and can only go out for essential reasons. I cannot imagine having to live this year ensconced with 2 young children, and losing your precious Buffy too.
I send you and your precious family very much love, and I hope that you will be able to find peace of mind and joy again. Take care of yourself, you will be missed.
Love from Sue xx♥️🥺♥️xx
Mi Querida Abril,
Me encantaba leer tus artículos. Muchas veces tú podías poner mis sentimientos en palabras antes de que yo me los podía sentir. Tienes tanto talento de conectar con tus lectores. Creo que esto no es el fin, es simplemente una curva en tu camino. Todavía hay bueno en el mundo, pero si no puedes verlo, es necesario cambiar la vista. Espero que Dios te bendiga con todo lo que necesitas y quieres. Te mando muchas bendiciones de amor y paz y cuando estás lista…la risa también. Te amo, chica bonita.
P.S. Humor me and try to read it without Google Translate first. 😊
I. Understand. Completely. Period. End of sentence 🙏🏾
Oh, Aprill! I am so sad to read this “last” article! I kept reading it, thinking oh she’s gonna rap this up with one of her many witty, funny endings. But, NO! Sue Carey summed up your impact beautifully. Please don’t forget your faithful followers and hopefully one day you will once again bless us with your insightful humor which we all so desperately need. Until then…peace :)!
Prayers for better days ahead for you (and all of us). Hopefully your spark will return and your writing will resume. Your ability to bring joy and laughter is truly a gift. Best wishes to you, Aprill!
April, I have loved reading your column over the years—so much real humor about real life and the concomitant angst. I look forward to your next iteration. This year has been a dark one for so many of us. It was my own personal crucible and I hope to emerge enlightened, now that I am moving past so much disappointment in humanity. You have a voice worth listening to, and perhaps, like Dave Barry or Molly Ivins, you will creat a book at some point that we can read in between laundry loads, pointless meetings that could hv been emails, etc.
Focus on the fun, the good, and find the silver lining.❤️
Say it aint so. Waaaaaa!! I love this column!!! You ALWAYS make me laugh!!
I feel your anger. I had so hoped you were immune to what’s happening around us because your humor made me smile on days I didn’t have another reason to do so. Don’t quit writing … please … even if it’s only for yourself.
In a weird way, you give me hope. I don’t often find that easy to come by. When I’ve been really down due to pre-existing mental health issues, your column has – at the very least – made me smile. Thank you for that. I get where you’re coming from; I, too, have lost faith in a lot of humanity. It’s hard these days to find the “human” in “humanity”, but I still hold out for hope because at least once a week I’m still surprised by ordinary people doing extraordinary things for no recognition. It’s out there, woman, and you’ll eventually find it. God bless!
I am sorry to read this email. I live in Greenville (OH), and I have followed your career from the beginning. I looked forward to your column every week.
The world is a freaking mess and too many people in the United States are fighting against those of us who want our nation put to rights again. I pray the new administration can undo a lot of wrong. And if Iâm reading you incorrectly in your beliefs, I still want the best for you and your family always.
May God bless you and your family always.
Sincerely, Jo Langenkamp
I have never written to anyone and I will be 69 in a few weeks. I am also not good at writing…at all. Your column had me tearing up and desperately wanting to reach out. Please know that my husband and I always loved and looked forward to reading your piece every 2 weeks. You are so gifted in your writing. Please know that we are pulling for you. Two strangers you don’t even know. My husband had to be taken to the hospital for the first time in his life a couple of weeks ago. Short version, he almost got put on a ventilator. Life gave him a second chance and today less than 2 weeks later he is well on his way to a full recovery. We had a miracle…I am so grateful. So we had something wonderful happen in our little neck of the woods. I have hope. You have given the gift of laughter to us so many times. I just wanted to thank you. I have hope that you will be writing again. You are amazing.
Well I disagree that you can’t write. This was beautiful. It means so much to me that you reached out to me. Truly. I am beyond exhausted on many levels but I hope with everything I have to write again. A big part of that is because what else connects two people across time and space as well? Thank you for the reminder. ❤️
I remember you before you left Victoria for Boston and was sad to see you leave but not surprised. I spoke with you once over the phone about an article you were writing. I remember the video piece you did about the chupecabra here in south Texas. It was great fun. I’m retired, 69 years old, former English major, who has always loved your take on things. I enjoyed Dave Berry also. I’m so sad that you are going through this stage in life. I have had my share of crushing tragedy and I can only tell you that you can come through on the other side better than before. My wife and I will miss your column. Please hang in there.
I have really enjoyed your columns from the very beginning. I get your style and humor, so thanks for the laughs. I am going to miss your writing (just like I miss Dave, Erma [yes I am that old], Calvin & Hobbs, and The Far Side). Take care.