I believe in laughter.
I don’t think there is a more perfect sound in the world. I love short outbursts, long, loud bouts of laughter, or the intimate giggling between two friends over an inside joke. I believe the best pain in the entire world is caused by laughing too hard. My favorite kind of laughter is the kind that makes your insides hurt. It’s the kind that makes you unable to stop, even though you would never want to anyway.
Laughter fills a room heavy with silence and pain. Laughter breaks down tension with tremendous force and precision. Laughing mends broken bridges between friends. And perhaps the greatest gift laughter gives us is the belief that everything will be okay.
When I say my grandma is like a second mother to me, it is no exaggeration. Since the day I was born, she has always been just a bedroom away. With both of my parents working full time since I was a baby, my grandma provided with me with consistent maternal devotion. She was more than a mere chauffeur, maid, or chef; she was the arms wrapped around me when I was scared, the pillow to rest on when I was tired, the hands to make chicken noodle soup when I was sick, and the bright smile when I was excited.
On Christmas Eve 2003, my family was enjoying the movie A Christmas Story. In the middle of the movie, Grandma slumped over in her chair. Nothing we said or did could revive her. Panicked, my dad rushed her to the hospital. For the next few weeks, my grandma fell in and out of consciousness. To this day she has no recollection of the entire affair. I always felt a pang of guilt every time I went to visit her. The hospital was dreary and cold; the walls seeped with illness and death. I hated that I felt the most uncomfortable in my grandma’s room. She had always been my source of comfort and strength and now I could barely stand to see her fragile frame gasping hungrily for every breath of air.
She couldn’t speak, nor could she move. So instead of chatting and laughing like we had always done before, I was forced to sit by her side for hours on end, holding her limp hand, wondering if she would be there the next day or the next. The only constant was that she wasn’t improving, and that was no comfort.
It became so painful for me that I stopped going to see her with my parents. Finally, a couple of weeks had passed and I knew I had to go back. As I entered the room I heard a sound that was all at once as foreign as it was familiar. My grandma was laughing. She was sitting there, propped up in her bed. When she saw me, she smiled and said, “Karen, you’re just in time to watch The Honeymooners with me!”
So to me, laughter is strength. It comes at the end of a long struggle. Laughter is a symbol of life and of victory. This I believe: laughter really is the best medicine.
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