Welcome back for our weekly Stuff We Like. This week is brought to you by Freddy.
*waves madly* Hi!
My Stuff We Like is going to be short and sweet this week. Not because I'm trying to skimp. It's actually quite the opposite, I honestly cannot say enough about my like this week. But it's not the easiest thing to be able to describe or get across. This is one of the few things that words do not do it justice. Because they can't. There's just no possible way.
What is this most fabulous Stuff We Like?
Simple. My cousin Jen's laughter.
Really, that's all. Her laughter makes me smile just thinking of it. I can hear it when something funny happens I think she would appreciate. I miss it when I am sad. Jen's laughter is balm for the soul.
I grew up with Jen's laughter. Nearly every Thanksgiving and Christmas was at my mom's parents, and almost always the cousins were all together. We even had a gift exchange every year to make things easier on the gift giving end. Summers and vacations occured together too.
Now, Jen is ten years older than me. She always had a crowd around her. Jen was, and always has been, the IT girl in our family and among her friends. Her smile, her laugh, drew everyone in.
As a kidl I found her memorisizing because of this. I trailed along after Jen numrous times because I wanted her attention, her smile, her laugh.
When she moved in with my parents during her high school years, I was exstatic. Jen was going to be around all the time. The six year old in me celebrated, unaware that of the reasons bringing her to us. How could a six year old understand? My parents never made a big deal about it, she was just there one day, sharing a room with my sister, and we laughed. She played with us, babysat us, and was part of the family. While she protected us, my parents protected her.
With us she laughed, even though she was hurting so hard inside. She laughed. The kind of ringing, joyous, loud laughter people laugh along with because you can't not laugh. Not when you heard her. A smile immediately formed when you heard her. You knew she was laughing because she meant it. Because whatever happened was funny.
Jen laughed because she understood pain. And laughter was so much better than the hurt she was going through. Or has gone through even years later.
But the little me didn't know. Didn't know her pain because she chose to show me only joy. Jen's strength of will, her need to focus on happiness, the support she has given to so many, came from a place where much pain resided.
In her life, Jen has been through a lot. More pain than someone with her love, her laughter, really deserve.
When I was young, I didn't know, didn't understand. Now that I'm older, know more of what happened in her life, when I hear her laugh, I appreciate it all the more.
Jen could've become angry and bitter, withdrawn into herself with all the trials and tribulations she's gone through over the years. Not that she hasn't cried or gotten angry. She has. But she keeps those tears for herself.
Instead, Jen chooses to laugh and to love those around her. Sharing her laugh, her deep, loud, joyful laugh, with all of us. Giving us a lighter heart when she does.
But the thing that has changed since I was a six year old excited to have my cousin come live with me, the one tiny change that makes all the difference, is that I have grown, and in doing so, learned to appreciate where Jen's laughter comes from. That she laughs so loud, so happily, because she knows pain. Harbored deep sorrow. But instead of wallowing in her anger, she loves.
She truly loves and chooses laughter. And for that, Jen's laughter is one of the most precious gifts in the world to me every time I hear it.