“Smile at each other. Smile at your wife, smile at your husband, smile at your children, smile at each other- it doesn’t matter who it is- and that will help to grow up in greater love for each other.” Mother Teresa
March is here. And today I found myself announcing sarcastically to my family that March is my favorite month of the year. It is difficult trodding through this month because I’ve forever dubbed it the “hospice” month. Two years ago, my father spent twenty-two days in hospice at home before he passed away. There were so many different lows in March 2009 that articulating them here in this space would be reliving them again. I am uninclined to do that even if it might be potentially cathartic.
When I made my announcement at the start of March, my husband said, “Why don’t you think of March differently? It is the month that your father became free of all the pain that he was feeling.” Of course, I’ve often had passing thoughts about the idea that my father might be in a better place with peace, although I have no way to confirm that this is true. My husband’s comment, though, prompted a thought about that time period that I’ve never mentioned, that it is possible to smile as you live in the depths of ultimate sadness.
My mom, my sister nor I wanted to smile during those twenty-two days. But we did. For my father. For ourselves. I recall bringing tea into my father’s hospice room, smiling and telling him, how lucky he was to get breakfast in bed. In one instant, I remember wheeling my father down our short hallway from his room to the living room and watching the nightly news with him. Some story caught his attention and we both smiled. The hospice doctor who visited him, was upbeat and even though she knew and we knew what would eventually come, smiled and conversed with my father during her examination. During long periods where my father would sleep, a half-smile would crawl onto his face. That created a chain reaction. I smiled too.
It might be a little startling to know that there was smiling going on during that month, but it did happen. I’ve talked so much about the pain of those last few days, but there were moments that we all smiled.
That simple act of smiling channeled us to our past of happier moments – Where we would joke around the dinner table, bust out in raucous laughter in our living room while my father tried some strange dance move.
It carried us to a time where we didn’t smile because we had to.
Is smiling something that you take for granted? Do your children remind you to smile more? Have you smiled to help you get through particularly sad times?