My smile has always been one of my best features. I’ve worn it often & earnestly. Early on I figured out that it could get me into and out of sometimes precarious situations.

My smile became my secret weapon.

“I haven’t seen you smile in so long. I’d love to see you happy again,” was what my very well-intentioned dad said to me, as we sat on the back porch together one fall day. It was hard for him to watch me suffer, and he wanted to take my pain away.

“LET ME BE!” was my instinctual thought, but all that came out was a weak “I’m trying, Dad.”

I was in the process of grieving many losses that happened all within a split second of my 25 years of doing life. My body died for an hour and 25 minutes until it grabbed onto life once again, I lost the love I had for a really good man I was going to marry, I lost major organs in my body (that was strategically planned & executed by phenomenal surgeons), I lost my sense of normalcy, and I lost my Grams throughout it all.

It was on her back porch, finally paying our last respects, when my dad shared his concerns out loud. Something in me knew I couldn’t and wouldn’t be able to smile my way out of this. I wanted to be left alone, until life was ready to have me emerge. In this space called “the in between”, I vacillated between devastation and gratitude. I purposely chose to remain in the ping pong match between them both. 

My smile came back when I was ready to recognize and hold the space for both the joy and the suffering within everyone I meet. It became my invitation to others to share their stories, and to remind them they are not alone.

“We need to experience the little angers as well as the big hurts, the painful wounds that life sometimes brings. To insist that we will only feel pleasant emotions means we’re blocking the pathway to the heart.”

~ Melody Beattie

+ Leave a comment