Laughter Is the Best Medicine

By JEANINE DeHONEY

Sometimes things, situations and people can cause your life to spiral out of normalcy. At times it may feel as if you’re walking around under a dark cloud and when that thunderous downpour comes, there’s no place to run for cover. I’ve been there, but I’ve learned that in and through it all to take a deep breath, exhale and then sweet-talk a laugh deep from within my soul. After all, laughter is the best medicine.

Believe me, it was a slow and arduous journey to get there. My laughter was undercover for far too many years. The turning point in my life came when several years ago, while in the hospital after having a serious operation, my hospital roommate, an older woman, shamed my blues away.

This woman, who embraced me like I was one of her daughters, was dying from pancreatic cancer. She was waiting to be moved to a hospice but each morning she had a hymn on her lips (which, by the way, she painted with a ruby red lipstick) and a hilarious story to tell. She’d constantly poke fun at the doctors who’d whisper when they talked to her as if she was hard of hearing. “I’m dying not deaf,” she’d say after they left the room. When she left to go to the hospice, I knew her faith and humor had already prepared her for her transition. I promised myself that if she could let her laughter free-fall, even with the stench of death lingering over her, I could do no less with my “miniscule” woes.

Some folks might think I’m crazy because they can’t see the “funny” in my trials much less their own, but it is there, hidden beneath those layers of melancholy and funk, honeyed and waiting to lighten my load.

Thus, as this 2015 begins, I implore all of you to let your laughter flow. It’s a survival tool and it’s needed now more than ever with all we have gone through collectively, and just because of our ethnicity, our gender, our susceptibility.

There is a hilarious side to life, even when it is seasoned with pain, so let’s give voice to it.

Let’s pull back our drawn curtains, those heavy antiquated ones that hung in our grandmother’s parlor, and let the sunbeams of our laughter fill every crevice of our beautiful being.

Let’s laugh at our mistakes and then press on even if we make more. That’s the DNA of humans; no one is perfect. Let’s laugh at our flaws because in all actuality, they should be renamed beauty marks. Let’s laugh with our children and especially our tweens and teens, because they need to see their parent’s counting it all joy, instead of how many ways we are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Let’s laugh with our significant other because we can get so caught up in everyday obligations we put each other on the back burner and laughter can be that aphrodisiac that brings back our Love Jones. Let’s laugh even after loss because there are rib-tickling memories about your beloved that will help your grief become less stinging with each new day. Let’s laugh because it’s contagious and healing and it can cause a joviality revolution when we pay it forward.

And if you need an extra nudge to get those laughter juices flowing, put on one of those crazy you-tube videos, or watch anything with Kevin Hart in it, or Gabriel Union because even in intense roles she’s got a lot of funny. Laugh at least three times a day like it’s a bountiful meal. Four if like me you count dessert as a meal.

Don’t hold it in. Put your back into it. Let it be the dew upon our parched spirits. Let it flow.

* * *

Jeanine DeHoney is a wife, mother and grandmother whose writing has appeared in Essence, Upscale, Today’s Black Woman, Beautiful Black Magazine, The Mom Egg, Literary Mama, Good Enough Mother, The Children’s Ark, BlackandMarriedWithKids.com and the anthology, “Chicken Soup for the African American Woman’s Soul.” She is also the winner of The Brooklyn Film and Arts Festival, Brooklyn Nonfiction 2014 Award.

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