A little laugh goes a long way…

It was all too familiar. Eerily so, in fact. This was the same hospital where I lost my father just two years ago. Cancer had attacked him stealthily – moving through his body leaving us at times hopeful and at times devastated, and finally taking over so much space in his brain there was no room left for him. Now it was back; this time targeting my mother. Sitting in the pitiful row of chairs the hospital pretended was a waiting room, I waited to hear if this evil that took my father would now leave me an orphan. At times it seemed too much.
The events since my mother was diagnosed had left me beaten down, more tired than I can remember feeling – and as the mother of a toddler and a baby, that’s saying a lot. I was mad at the world and mad at God. Like a child taking his ball and going home, I was ready to pack up and leave if he took my mother too.
After days of working on auto pilot, getting the kids ready for school to start, getting the logistics of caring for my mother worked out and just getting through the day, this was the first time to be truly alone with my thoughts. Alone, that is, except for my newest nephew. His mother, my sister who with four kids was even more weary than I, had left the 10 week old baby in my care for a moment.
I can’t explain why I chose that moment to smile at him. He was particularly quiet that day but in that nauseous green hospital hallway I got the urge to make him happy. Maybe it was the almost ridiculous contrast of the oppressive sadness of the waiting area and the tiny life in front of me, but I decided at least someone should be smiling at that moment. I looked at little Broden, who because of my own preoccupation with my own baby and now my mother, had received so little attention from his normally doting Auntie. I turned my attention to that little man with his straight nose and big eyes and gave him a tickle… it seemed impossible but right there in that hospital gloom he laughed for the first time in his short life. His timing was almost comic, enough so that it made me laugh, something I would have said couldn’t happen while I was waiting for new of my mother’s potentially life-threatening surgery. For a moment, the seemingly constant stream of tragedy that was beating down my family lifted and I felt happy.
Shortly after that the surgeon came out to report the operation had gone well and the cancer was removed. It was a far better outcome than we’d come to expect.
I won’t pretend Broden’s laugh has made it all better. The threat of cancer is still hanging over our heads and it certainly hasn’t eased my mother’s suffering as she recovers from surgery, but perhaps it has provided a little light. I haven’t necessarily forgiven God and I haven’t got any new answers but it perhaps has helped me see the joy in the smaller moments in my day. Between trips to the hospital I stop to appreciate my own son’s laugh and the taste of my first (and unfortunately only) cup of coffee for the day. I still feel the weary and often angry but I am thankful, something I couldn’t feel just days ago. He’s too young to understand now but someday I have to thank little Broden. My mother is still sick and cancer is still all too real a danger but one moment of joy has gone a long way toward undoing so many days of fear and anger, and just maybe it has gone a little way towards restoring my own faith.

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3 Responses to A little laugh goes a long way…

  1. Kim says:

    It’s good to hear that your Mom’s surgery went well and that little Broden brought a little bit of sunshine to your day. I look forward to seeing you next week. Let me know if I can do anything to help out!

  2. dawna says:

    this entry brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my lips…god blesses!

  3. Anonymous says:

    My God I am proud of how beautifully you write…and I’m so happy that my little man has such a wonderful Auntie! This really captures the emotions of that frightful day- and puts something beautiful in to replace some of my dark memories of it.

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