Memos from the Middle

Smack-Dab in the Middle of Living

Laughter: The Pain and Joy of It

Her eyes welled with tears as she tried in vain to convince me that she was fine. Mommies know better, though. They always do. Seeing her made all the problems clinging stubbornly to my mind fade away. My child was hurting, and I didn’t know why.

I had been at work, trying to convince others that teaching is about students, not adults, and I had carried that frustration into her classroom, probably written on my face, as my youngest rushed toward me in excited glee. Through kisses and hugs, I could make out the melancholy figure of my oldest, alone and sad, sitting on the story-time rug. Her teacher, concerned and nurturing, let me know that she had been like this all day. “She was happy when I dropped her off,” I thought, as I walked toward her with open heart and outstretched hands. She didn’t wave goodbye to her friends, rush to open the big blue door, or pick dandelions from the grass. She held my hand quietly. No skipping to the car. No stories about silliness. No begging for snacks.

“Baby, what’s wrong? Did someone hurt you?”

“No. Nobody hurt me.”

“Then what happened?”

“They laughed at me.”

Who laughed at you?”

“Everybody,”  fell from her mouth. Big, fat tears streamed down in long silent lines. My heart broke for her. I tried. I really did. I wanted to shield her from cruelty as long as I could. I failed. I wanted to weep for her, take the hurt from her, but I couldn’t. That crushed me even more. All I could think to do was pray. “Let her know, God, that she is special, regardless of what others do or say to or about her. She is marvelous, capable of anything. Give her strength, confidence, and humility. Keep her in your care.” I rubbed her hair as she sat in my lap, reminding her that she is loved.

Now, hours later, as she makes a “picnic” of bath towels and throw pillows on my living room floor with her sister, the laughter is a distant memory and no longer a debilitating concern. She’s herself, happy and playful, making goofy rhymes and funny faces, as I turn on my computer. The seriousness of my own day has returned, and I’m clouded by the words I should have said and the actions I should have taken.

I log onto my blog, wondering how I’m going to block out my thoughts to let my fingers tip-type away about things that fuel my spirit. I notice I have a comment from my sister in blogging, Neha, the one who reminds me of the beauty of Female Humans through her lens and keyboard, saying that she has nominated me for a Sunshine Blog Award. So unexpected! I had to research to figure out what that even was. Now, I’m happy. For real and giddy.

I always say that God sends little angelic messages my way when I need them most, and I truly feel that this nomination is just that. Of course, it would be nice to win, but the fact that what I do to cleanse my soul has been inspiring to someone else fills me with a love I cannot adequately express. Thank you, Neha, for being a vessel of kindness, with miles-away words, but a heart next door.

The laughter tonight will be good, really good!

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