Orange you glad I didn’t say “banana”?
Admit it. You giggled. You couldn’t help yourself. It’s not even funny, but it made you laugh.
When I hear that joke, I hear the fruity voices of two little girls each at different points in time finding their sense of humor by telling their first joke. And, then I hear it being told over and over and over and over again.
[Cue the Spongebob voiceover] . . . And, three hours later.
Each time, I listened as if hearing it for the first time just to hear them laugh at their own joke.
No sounds really compares to the sound of a deep belly laugh. Whether it’s a baby’s first real laugh, the bubbly giggles of a toddler, the giggle-snort of a not-quite-middle-aged woman, or a dad’s deep, bass chuckle – they are contagious. Each one unique to its owner – as individual as fingerprints. Each sound riding waves straight to our hearts.
Humor is a huge part of life. My dad loved to tell an Aggie Joke. He also loved to tell jokes that were even more inappropriate than poking fun at college kids from south Texas. Frankly, he told some jokes that I never should have heard. Both of my brothers are just down-right funny, but my brother, John, might be one of the funniest people I know. My daughter, Megan, inherited my dad’s dry sense of humor. And, every family has that one person known for their corny, eye-rolling humor. If you aren’t sure who that is in your family – it might be you.
We are drawn to funny people. We share funny videos on social media. We pay to hear comedy shows. Laughing just feels good. Even if we can’t put our fingers on exactly why – scientists have figured out that laughing releases a cocktail of endorphins reducing stress and protecting the heart along with a host of other healthful benefits. So, maybe there is something to the old saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.”
When we are enduring deeply painful seasons of life – laughter is often the first thing to go. If the scientific backing for laughing is solid, then losing one’s sense of humor can have traumatic consequences for the body. More importantly, losing that sense of light-hearted joy has dire consequences for the soul. Losing one’s sense of humor creates a void that is a black hole sucking away our sense of hope.
This time last year, I did not feel like laughing much. In fact, I went nearly a solid three months without laughing – not even once. I remember the first time that I really laughed after Brooke’s accident. I was sitting in the backseat of my brother’s truck and he said something funny. If my life depended on it, I can’t recall what he said – only that I laughed, unguarded and genuine. That laugh caught me off-guard. I choked it back with guilt. I had just lost my daughter. How could I laugh? So soon? Ever?
a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance
Over the ensuing months, I’ve come to realize that one way to reclaim hope in the wake of loss – take back the laughter. Salvage your smile. Let the sound of laughing baby penetrate your soul. Listen to corny jokes. (If you don’t have a baby or corny joke teller of your own around – just search the internet. There are tons of laughing baby and corny joke videos out there.)
It’s okay to laugh – even after great loss. The season of weeping isn’t meant to last forever. Seasons change. Seasons cycle. Don’t skip the funny season.
He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.
Today is National Tell a Joke Day. On the 16th of August each year, the nation celebrates the gift of laughter. Today is a day to fill our mouths with laughter and for our lips to shout with joy.
One of Brooke’s favorite jokes was an attorney joke. I remember the first time that she told it to me. She was a little worried that it might hurt my feelings. (She was still under the mistaken impression at the time that attorneys have feelings.) And, she was a little worried about how she was going to tell the joke without cursing. I can still hear her nervous giggles and I can see her crooked grin – the one before braces straightened her smile, as she (proudly, maybe a little too proudly) shared –
What’s the difference between a lawyer and a bucket of “rhymes with it”?
Answer – The bucket.
I laughed – probably a little too hard.
Today also marks 17 months (or 74 weeks or 518 days or 12,432 hours, but who’s keeping track) since I heard Brooke laugh. It’s been so long since losing my brother and my dad, that I can’t quite hear their laughter any longer, but I still see their faces when they laughed. I can still see my mamaw rocking back and forth in laughter in a chair that didn’t rock. I can see my Aunt Lee’s face full of laughter. But – the sounds have mostly dissipated into the heavens.
I can only imagine the sounds of laughter filling heaven. There can be no doubt if God put the duck-billed platypus here on earth that He must have some funny “rhymes with it” waiting for us at the Pearly Gates.
If I could wish for one sound to sustain me until I make my way there – I’d wish for a “laugh track.” I’d take one mp3 file containing the laughs, chuckles, giggles, and guffaws of those I’ve loved and lost. Then, I’d play it on a continuous loop as just one small reminder that the hope of heaven trumps even our worse “rhymes with it” day here on earth.
Spread the smile! Make someone laugh today! Share your favorite joke in honor of National Tell a Joke Day – August 16