I used to laugh a lot. My family has teased me for years about my ability to crack myself up. I used to laugh out loud at, well, almost everything. And it wasn't just a little giggle here or there but that kind of laugh that came straight from my belly. It didn't matter if I was the only one laughing, or if what I was laughing about was in my own head, I laughed anyway, freely and often. If it was funny I laughed. It was who I was then.
When Aubrey and Ellie died I lost my laugh. I lost my smile too. At least the genuine versions of both. Every once in a while I laughed sort of, but not the same as before. I would do that "half-smile and tip by head back with a raise of the eyebrows" maneuver that insinuates a laugh but isn't really a laugh at all. And I only did that to appease others when I knew I should laugh but couldn't. It seemed my laugh had died with my girls and replaced itself with tears and melancholy. It was who I had become.
Then one day I realized I missed my laugh.
I missed the feeling. There is something healing about cracking up. Laughing so hard you can barely breathe is exhausting, but in good way. Like when I was a kid I would swim all day long and be so tired I would nod off at the dinner table. Or after the league championship basketball game that went into triple overtime to finally win it by a single point. Or after 8 hours of labor to finally to hear my son's little squeaky cry. Sometimes pure exhaustion can be so indescribably fulfilling. Unlike the exhaustion of grief. Exhaustion isn't even the right word. I was so tired I felt tourtured, defeated and empty...and I really didn't want to feel that way anymore.
God, I want to laugh again.
I didn't immediately start laughing. Not that day or the next, or even the next week. But I daily offered up my request to God. Slowly I found myself smiling more or chuckling to myself. The heaviness began to lift and the lighter side of life was finding its way to my heart.
And then one day, it happened. I was in the car with my sister being silly and I couldn't help myself. I laughed and laughed. We both did. We could barely catch our breath. When we finally composed ourselves it hit me. I haven't laughed like this since...
And then I cried.
Laughing and crying now go hand in hand. God answered my prayer. I can laugh again. But I still cry. I think I thought that laughter would replace my tears, but I know now that is impossible. Nothing will replace my tears. I will always cry for my girls. But now I see that I will not only cry for my girls. I will smile and laugh too. Joy is possible and attainable after such tragedy. I never thought I would ever be able to say it, but it is. God is a faithful comforter. All I had to do was ask.