If It Makes You Honest to God Smile

Michelle - Marlton, New Jersey
Entered on March 26, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: death, family, legacy
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If It Makes You Honest to God Smile

Anyone can crack a smile and make it look realistic. So everyone has a bad day or two… so what? I have come to believe that when someone tells me to “shake it off,” it’s truly all worth it to just move on. Don’t dwell on the pointless things. Being superficial seems to be everyone’s way of telling others they’re happy. Well, to all of the people who can easily say they know a person just like that, I say, tap them on the shoulder and remind them this: True happiness exists and I believe in it.

You don’t have to be one of those people who jump and scream over a touchdown in the championship game, or dance when you open a gift on Christmas morning to understand the feeling. It doesn’t have to be the highlight of your life, or as pointless as the amount of icing on your cupcake. For me, it was a way to say goodbye. Sounds strange, I know. In 2004, my cousin, Gretchen, passed away in a car accident at only seventeen. It was at her funeral when I realized I was going to be okay. Leaving in tears after her burial, what we needed was some sort of way to laugh because that’s what she would have wanted. While standing in the parking lot, my aunt discovered a pack of waters on top of a car and began drinking one of the bottles only to find that it belonged to no one in our family and she’d stolen someone’s things off their car at a funeral. As the large group of people cleared the parking lot only the girls of the family were laughing hysterically and I’m almost positive Gretchen was too. The real expression on our faces explains exactly why anyone, at any time, can understand the feeling of true happiness. I knew that I could move on without the tears. She would have wanted everyone to be in true happiness rather than tears, and that I know for sure. To be completely honest, this was one of the most memorable moments of my life. I’d achieved something that for some, takes years until their wedding day, or birth of a first child. Yes, it was at a funeral, but what matters is this: did it honest to God make me smile? Yes. Every smile reminds me of Gretchen.