I believe in the cathartic nature of a simple thing called laughter. When I say laughter, I’m not talking about a phony chuckle when your best friend tells a joke that you don’t quite understand. When I say laughter, I don’t mean a subtle giggle that you give when you’re watching your mom “crack-up” about something that happened at work and you nicely say, “Well, I guess you just had to be there.” When I say laughter, I mean true, genuine, knee-slapping, tear-rolling, tummy-grabbing laughter.
As I grow older and face new experiences in my life, I am learning how important it is to keep joy, faith, love, and laughter in the forefront of my being. I continue to realize that laughter can be a way to relieve stress, bond with others, and grieve in a manner that uplifts the soul and allows God to heal. This past December I lost one of my best friends named Chance. There were so many qualities that encompassed the life and personality of Chance, but of them all, the most outstanding was his natural inclination and his innate ability to make every moment in his presence fun and full of laughter. At his funeral I learned something spiritually renewing, that laughter abolishes festering fear and encumbering emotion and inspires mending memories to come as they please.
My pastor told a story at the funeral that embodied Chance’s persona, head to toe. Six months before Chance’s death, a few families from our church went on a cruise to the Bahamas. As the group stood hungrily waiting to go to supper one evening, Chance came around the corner of the hallway from his room. He always had a bounce in his gait, a grin on his face, and a vulpine look in his eyes. In the lobby there were large poles placed around the room to support the upper decks above the foyer. A man from my church jokingly told Chance that he would give him a dollar if he pretended to dance on a pole. Our entire crowd let out a resounding roar of laughter because we knew Chance wouldn’t really do it, and we were a church group that did not appear to possess the slightest inclination do anything of the sort. Just when I started to turn around to ascend the steps, Chance took a huge leap at the pole and twirled himself completely around the dowel with a catty expression on his face. As soon as he had completed his “dance,” he burst out into laughter. Thinking that his church group and family were the only people on the ship that viewed the embarrassing incident, Chance turned to leave; as he turned, two small, elderly women passed behind him. They were both beaming and one of them slipped a crinkled one dollar bill into Chance’s back pocket and chuckled as they walked away. When my pastor told this story at the funeral, I wasn’t sure if I should cry or laugh. But when I finally allowed myself to laugh, I felt as if I were in a complete state of serene peace and unexplainable contentment.
The laughter that I hold on to gives me a therapeutic treatment straight from heaven’s gates. Allowing laughter to release emotion, in the same manner as tears, can cleanse the mind and soul. Call it a liberating remedy or a mere process of grieving. Who would have even thought there was so much power in a simple thing called laughter? This I believe.
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