Thursday, August 30, 2012

My Laugh

My laugh is loud…really loud.  I am totally aware of this, but I cherish it.  I adore it.  I love the feeling that floods my entire being as laughter bubbles up inside of me and then erupts from my mouth.  Why?  There was a time when I didn’t know if genuine laughter would ever be part of my life again.

I’ve been through some pretty serious stuff medically.  Seven back surgeries, a broken neck, a spinal fluid leakage, and a gnarly bacterial infection.  All pretty strong reasons why, medically, I shouldn’t be here...but I’m still here.  And, not only am I here…looking at me, you would never know how scary my past has been…how close I came to not being here. 
For 6 months I walked around with a broken neck, and no one, including myself, knew it.  We didn’t know about the spinal fluid leakage until after the fact.  The bacterial infection was so scary, my orthopedic surgeon quoted Psalms to my parents.  He said that it was out of his hands and in God’s.  Man, was it ever.

My darkest days were while I had that infection.  I have never felt pain like I felt then.  I have never experienced fear like I experienced then.  I have never felt as hopeless as I felt then.  I have never wanted to give up like I wanted to then.  And, during this time…I lost my laugh.  It wasn’t a conscience thing.  It just disappeared, and I was in so much despair, I didn’t even realize that it was gone.

After things started looking up for me, and I was going to be okay…I began missing something.  What was it?  It took me a while to realize, but then it hit me like a ton of bricks: I hadn’t laughed, or even wanted to, in a very long time.  I missed it…I missed the feeling…I missed the joy of it…the experience…the simple pleasure of it.  But, this is something you can’t force.  Sure, you can fake a laugh, and I’ve done that before, but this was different.  I craved genuine laughter.  I wanted it; I needed it.

Then, it happened.

It was shortly after Thanksgiving, and I was still in the hospital at Emory.  It was early evening and quiet on the floor….that’s when I heard it.  It started out small…and began to grow.  People were singing.  As it got closer and louder, the songs became familiar to me; they were singing Christmas carols.  Tears filled my eyes, but not from sadness…I was filled with joy and thankfulness; I was filled with gratitude.  A smile, that wasn’t forced, spread across my face like wildfire.  I couldn’t stop it.  And, I felt it…first in my heart, and then in my stomach…that feeling that I had missed so much.  There was my laughter.  It didn’t leave me; it only slumbered for awhile.  I knew that not only was I going to be okay, but that I was unbreakable….and I am able to laugh…loudly.