I believe that laughter can cure all evils in this world. That the sound can soothe the most troubled soul. It is the sound of new hope, and of joy, however short, escaping from the tangles of the life we live. It means that for that one second, life will go on, no matter how unbearable it seems. It shows us that we can be free. Free to live and free to love.
My grandparents called the small lines that surround the eyes wrinkles. I called them laugh lines. Those small little lines seemed like impressive trophies to me. How many times did I have to laugh to get a pair of my own? They loved to laugh, both of them. It was like fifty years of marriage had taught them how to find humor in each other and in life itself. They taught me the importance of unrestrained laughter. The kind that keeps going until you’re gasping, and then once you regain your breath, it starts all over again. They taught me how to laugh at myself.
As I grew older, life threw some things at me that I could not find humor in. My grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It was so hard to understand that she couldn’t remember me, no matter how much I wanted her to. There was nothing funny about my grandfather growing weaker in body and soul as he cared for the love of his life. A member of my senior class died the summer before our senior year. There was nothing to laugh about. My neighbor passed away after his liver quit working. He left a wife and two daughters behind. The only sound was that of unrelieved sobbing. How could life be funny when there was so much pain?
The last year in my life was a troubled time. One of crying myself to sleep and then waking up to cry for those whose pain was greater than mine. My mother had lost both her parents. How would it feel to lose a husband or a son? That is when I remembered what my grandparents had taught me. If only we can endure, one day we will find laughter again. It will come from the small things at first, and will last only moments. A small chuckle here, or a giggle quickly stifled there. Soon though, the soul will begin to heal as you remember. You won’t remember the pain at losing them; that will fade with time. You will remember the funny things they did, and eventually, one day, you will laugh again. Loud and unrestrained. The kind that makes your eyes water and your stomach hurt, and you will be free.
Pain is temporary, if it can be endured, it will fade. Laughter, however, laughter is forever. Laughter is the reason to get up in the morning and the sign that you know you are going to have a good day. I look forward to the day when I get my own set of lines around my eyes. Then everyone will know that I have enjoyed life. Through all the misery and pain in this world, they will know I have found laughter.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.