I have noticed something over the last few weeks. First it came as a vague thought, something I couldn’t quite articulate, but something that was felt. This evening as I was driving home from a talent show rehearsal, laughing at my oldest son’s silly song in the car, the words came…
Free, abandoned, out-of-the-gut laughter is something unfamiliar to me.
I don’t know how or where it started. I came from a loving, balanced home. My childhood was full of amazing experiences that I could only wish for my kids today.
But… I was always shy. Painfully so. I had a bouncy, outgoing, popular older sister. My younger sister was blessed with the beauty and the brains in our family combined, and sported a sharp wit. I got lost between the two of them and felt I couldn’t compete. So I withdrew into my own world. (Sometimes called Sumi-land. I still go there sometimes. 🙂 )
I went to a high school that was extremely snobbish. My best friend from school and I met together in February of this year and puzzled over why that was the case. We both agreed though – we couldn’t think of a single soul that was truly happy in that school.
Somehow, in those high school years I lost my laughter. I remember a stage when I desperately, painfully tried to manufacture a ‘cute’ laugh. My older sister had this little bubbly laugh, but when I tried to emulate it other children told me how fake it sounded. (I suppose it did.) But the snarky, biting comments of my peers only made me shut up more. Until I didn’t know how to laugh, really laugh, anymore.
I have always admired people who can just laugh, without a care in the world. Who can belt it out from somewhere in their gut and whose laughs are so infectious it gets you laughing too. My oldest son has a nice laugh – and I can pick it out in a crowd at school. It always makes me smile.
The last few weeks, I have been hearing myself laugh. Free, unaffected, and uninhibited. It is a strange sound. It is a good sound.
I think it is a sure sign of something amazing that is taking place in my life. How can I be so broken, and yet so made-whole? How can there be so much pain in my life and yet such joy? It is a mystery.
A colleague of mine commented on the pink sweater that I wore to school this week. I told her: “Yeah, this is my Jenna shirt. We picked it out together.” “Who is Jenna?” she asked, and promptly dissolved into tears as I told her about my girly-girl.
She had no idea. She told me that I seem so happy and normal and she never suspected I carried that kind of grief with me.
I told her then, that God has ordained my steps in a way this year that I never could have imagined. He has truly cocooned me in his grace, like a preacher told me at church recently. I have never felt so loved, so capable (it even feels strange to write that word) or so free just to be me.
Oh, I do grieve. My heart catches in my throat many times a day as a situation or sound or smell or sight reminds me that Jenna is not here with us now. The pain welling up in my heart at odd times is a familiar thing now. I know it is transient, so I don’t fight it.
Yet I am in such a good place. Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time for everything under the sun…a time to pluck down, and a time to build. Right now I am amazed to see a building taking shape, made of His hands, one that I pray he will inhabit and be glorified through. Amen, Jesus…so be it.