I didn’t realize how long it had been since I laughed. I don’t mean a chuckle or a giggle; I’m talking a full out, eye-watering belly laugh. There was an Avengers movie on and I unwillingly caught part of it. Now, I’m glad I did because something Tony Stark said let something loose inside me and I’ve been giggling about it since. It wasn’t even that funny, but it struck both Linnea and I and, well, you know how contagious laughter can be.

Between my illness, the stress of harvest into winter-too-soon, and all the snow, things have been pretty tense around here. It’s been fairly pleasant, and I don’t want to sound like we’ve been miserable, but we haven’t been free, either.

I had more energy yesterday than I’ve had in months, so I worked off and on all day getting one kid moved in with another and doing some long needed organization. In the midst of the shuffling, a solitary Lego guy made his appearance. This sparked something in my 15 year old son, and soon the “Lego bucket” was spread all over my 10-foot dining table (that I had finally gotten cleaned off *sigh*).

I spent the evening loving the sound of my three “littles” playing together. They are 17, 15, and 13, and it’s been years since the Lego bucket was dragged out. Granted, the games teens play and the things they build are far different from what they played and built as children. Combine that fact with them cracking themselves up and you have quite the entertainment.

Another kid was hard studying for today’s college tests, and a fifth hung out doing a variety of catch-up tasks. It was a bright and happy evening, and so badly needed.

I think the idea that “mom is the barometer of the home” bears a lot of weight. I so often don’t realize the effect my own mood has on my family. As much as I hate the saying “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” I think it’s true.

It’s not about keeping mama happy, though. At least I hope that’s not the case here. It’s more about the family taking their cues from the one who is the manager and keeper of the home. If Mom isn’t feeling well, the family feels that, and it drives the atmosphere. If Mom is sad, or angry, or whatever, other members of the family respond in kind.

I think my kids were free to play today because Mom laughed–I mean really laughed. It was the thing none of us knew we were waiting for, and I intend to do it more often.

Good Medicine

Humor is a big part of our home. We like to laugh and we do it often. I’m realizing it’s sort of a love language, here. If you’ve hung around long enough to be teased and ribbed, you’re IN. You’re part of our tribe, for better or for worse.

Sometimes, teasing goes too far and feelings get hurt. That’s not okay. But generally speaking, we can all take a joke and enjoy the give and take. We try to be good about checking in with one another to be sure we aren’t hitting tender spots that need protecting, not poking.

Several days after diagnosis, we sat around the table playing a game of Exploding Kittens. No kittens were harmed during game play, and if you enjoy junior high type humor, you should check out this game. Anyway, the game was rather slow and subdued on this occasion–an attempt at normalcy even though everyone was feeling the full weight of our situation.

After the game dragged on for quite awhile, my husband played a mean card on me. Without missing a beat, I looked at him with my best pathetic face and said “But. . . I have CANCER!” My poor kids looked like someone hit them in the gut. My husband just shook his head and replied “I knew that was coming.” I laughed, and that was the beginning of healing.

As soon as I was able to make light of this serious situation, it freed my family to be themselves and be normal. You see, there isn’t a guidebook to this sort of thing. Nobody knows what I really feel inside or how I (or others) may construe anything anyone else says or does. In the simple act of laughter, the dam burst and I think everyone felt like maybe, just maybe, we will all get through this.

Cancer is not a laughing matter. But it’s also not the beginning notes of a funeral dirge. We can survive this.

They say the mama is the barometer for the household. She sets the tone and so much depends on her attitude. My family knows when I’m not okay. They know when something is off and when I’m faking. I pray that through this, I can teach my kids that authenticity is not only okay, it’s necessary to life. Even as I write this, I am learning it myself. I can cry. I can be sad. I can be unsure and apprehensive and scared. But I can also laugh in the face of adversity and show the world that there is joy in the journey, no matter how rough.