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The Importance of Laughter and Smiles

Monday, November 14, 2011

By Becca Atherton

It was 19 years ago that I met a good friend of mine when we were both babies in the intensive care unit at the same hospital. Our parents had both been told that things weren’t looking so good for us.

Fast forward a few years. When we were eight years old we met again at a camp for kids with congenital heart defects. Every year we would see each other at camp, share funny stories, go kayaking and all around just got to feel like normal kids. FYI—two heart kids in a kayak is not a good idea. We kept running into boats and we didn’t go very fast since we both get tired easily! But we had a good time!

Sadly, though, my friend has been having some troubles with his heart lately. There is an infection at the site where his pacemaker was (they have recently moved it up to his chest) and now after the surgery his heart is very tired and not pumping as strongly as it should.

I know that he is scared, but the times that I have gone to see him in the hospital, he never once complains. He will sit there and laugh with me, goof around and just be his plain old happy self. As if nothing was wrong, as if his heart defect wasn’t even a problem.

I am just so amazed at how strong my friend is. I know part of him doesn’t talk about it because that is admitting that there is a problem and he doesn’t want to acknowledge that he is sick. Who does? But the fact that he can still laugh—even though he is lying in a hospital bed with tubes and wires all around him—is wonderful. It shows that even though his body is weak, his spirit is not.

I think if we all tried just a little more to focus on the good things in life (no matter how small they may be) and less on the bad we could be happier. Yes, there is a time to be scared and a time to be worried, but maybe part of our fears can subside when we start to laugh and smile.


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