Mama said she knew I was going to marry Ryan after going on a hike with us around Silver Creek Falls near Salem, OR. We had only been dating for about a month, and my mama was DEFINITELY not in a hurry to see me married off. But she shook her head as she and I ate chocolate and debriefed late into the night after that hike and said, “You two just laughed and laughed…and kissed..and laughed. I’ve never seen anyone make you laugh so much. He’s the one, Caitlyn.” Tears fell down both of our cheeks, and then we giggled.
I have written about joy many times on this blog. It is my greatest gift and favorite antidote to use against despair. Joy has been part of my make-up since I was born. My parents say I was a super happy kid, and I my relationships with family and friends throughout my growing years fueled my joyful spirit. But when Ryan became my main person on this earth, my capacity for joy stretched and grew. Jesus used him to bring me such joy that it had to escape through laughter. Laughter is a staple of our marriage still to this day. While we have faced some very serious stuff and we take life seriously, we are not serious people. Ryan makes me light-hearted, which is a priceless gift when life has tried to weigh my heart down.
Last week, I cried like I hadn’t cried in a really long time. Sawyer, sweet boy that he is, deleted EVERYTHING off of my computer. He wasn’t being malicious, and I hadn’t protected my writing the way I should have, but his curiosity lost all of my writing. I haven’t officially announced this yet, but I have been working on writing a book. I had finished a good chunk of it, which Sawyer completely erased. I knew I could recover most of it through emailed copies I had sent my friends, but there were final edits and new additions that were now lost in computer-no-man’s-land and my foggy brain.
I was devastated, and I couldn’t stop crying for hours. And my poor Sawyer-boy was crushed by my tears. I reassured him over and over that I forgave him, I wasn’t angry, I loved him. But my sadness squeezed his poor heart and we did a lot of crying side-by-side on the couch.
Liam came up to me after a while and said with utmost seriousness, “There’s a Daniel Tiger episode I need you to watch.” Ryan was working desperately to recover anything on my computer, but he stopped and walked over with us to the TV. Liam had the episode all cued up, and he gravely pushed play. Daniel Tiger sang, “When something seems bad, turn it around, and find something good.” Liam pushed pause and turned to us. “If you turn this around, what good do you see?”
Ryan turned to me and cracked a crooked smile. “Daniel Tiger saves the day again,” he said.
And I laughed. All of my tension and loss eased as I laughed and laughed at my sweet oldest son’s earnest wisdom and my husband’s joyful eyes. Laughter squashed my sadness.
Because there is good in this situation. I will write more, and I’ll make those edits and additions again. They might be different, but maybe they’ll be better. Also, I hadn’t been sure before how to let you all know I was writing a book, and now I have:-)
Ecclesiastes 3:4 says there’s “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” In my experience, these times often collide into one moment. Thankfully, laughter and dancing usually win the top spot in my heart. The wonderful thing about laughter’s power is it catches people’s attention.
Every time Ryan and I were waiting in a pre-op room before one of my surgeries, our laughter brought people in to check on us. Nurses and medical staff would pop their heads in and smile. They would shake their heads and sometimes even laugh with us. My hope is that they left with the truth from Psalms 126:2 in their heart: “Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’” Because laughter is not usually at home in those halls. The pre-op rooms more often see legitimate fear, sorrow, and pain. Genuine laugher that stems from unshakeable joy and hope does not erase those emotions—it just refuses to let them lead me to despair. Genuine laughter that stems from unshakeable joy and hope is evidence of something supernatural going on; the laughter is evidence of God’s presence.
I wrote the following poem for Ryan. For he is my evidence that God gave me sustainable joy. This is about the day of my first surgery: my mastectomy. May you read it and believe in the power of laughter that grows from joy. May you treasure the laughter in your life and the people who foster it (I have MANY people in my life who make me laugh, and I am thankful for every single one of you. Ryan is the one, though, who married me and therefore gets to make me laugh 24-7…so he gets a poem:-)
Laughter is the best medicine they
and yet I may die today.
It cannot be the time
But there he stands offering me this gift
to lift me from despair
and repair the holes worry can wear
into my soul.
So we laugh the kind of laugh
that buoys up my other half—
the half that shakes and quakes and cries,
the half that cannot close her eyes
to all that’s been lost and all she
This half will continue to refuse
to forget the grief.
But even she feels the relief of laugh’s joy.
For both halves must employ to
griever, survivor, playmate, friend.
And both halves need him for the
beginning, middle, and end.
Because he is my blend of salvation,
celebration, and hope.
His rope of laughter pulls me high
until I can see my reasons to cry only
far down below,
and my laughter does grow
and me and him and laughter are all that
with this man in this moment
all Heaven sent.