There’s a line in a song by Rich Mullins: “If you make me laugh, I know I can make you like me. ‘Cause when I laugh I can be a lot of fun…” There is something about laughter that sets us free.
No one makes me laugh harder than my brother. He is funny. Really funny. But you have to be quiet or you’ll miss it. I got to spend last weekend in NYC with my family, and one night, over strawberry shortcake and ice cream sundaes, we were quiet long enough that he spoke up. It started with a question about Audrey Hepburn, whose picture was on the wall behind us: “Oh, the blind one?” he said. No, Hunter, she wasn’t blind. She just wore big sunglasses. “No, she was blind.” And with a few clicks of the iPhone he proved it–not that she was blind (she wasn’t) but that she did once play a blind woman in a film. Apparently my brother moonlights as a 1960s film critic. Who knew?!
This conversation evolved into Hunter’s impersonating a comedian. Y’all. I’m so sorry that you missed it. I could not do it justice. But it was hilarious. I laughed until I ached. Until I could not catch my breath. Until it wasn’t really clear if I was laughing or sobbing because both emotions come from a strangely similar and only vaguely familiar place.
Sometimes we need to cry so hard that we are free to laugh. And sometimes we need to laugh so hard that we are free to cry.
I know a lot of people that are hurting right now. And I’ve hurt recently enough to know that there is nothing I can say or do that could really make it better. I asked a friend what she needed. I don’t know was her very honest response. And I thought: well, then, I guess you just get me.
And maybe that is what we really so desperately need. Each other. Here in the midst of the hilarity and the harrowing and the humiliating.
We need the people who make us laugh and let us cry. We need the people who will hold us until the sobbing stops and then tilt our faces back toward the Light. We need the people who know what we fear so that they can point us back to hope. Oh, but they’re the same ones who also drive you mad? Yes. They are. What did you expect?
Laughter and tears share a space in the deepest part of you.
And those you hold dearest know how to reach the deepest. Their words pierce sharpest. But their love sticks closest. And their laughter? Well, it’s the most contagious.
I’m thinking of a line from another song, this one by Jillian Edwards: “I want to sing lullabies to earth as she cries, but I really want to try to make her laugh…” I do. Because laughter is permission to feel most deeply.
There is a whole lot of ache in this world. But, thankfully, some of that ache is from laughing until we cannot breathe.
We need the ones who make us laugh–not so that they will like us but because they do.
And since I like you, I really want to try to make you laugh. I’m sorry that I didn’t film my brother’s most recent comedy show. But I did find one of my most favorite jokes of all time… If this isn’t funny to you, let me know. I’ll try again. (Or, better yet, you try and make us laugh!)
*The songs I quoted are Rich Mullins, We Are Not As Strong As We Think We Are, and Jillian Edwards, Songbird.