The Courage to Express Unrestrained Joy

Savannah kept trying to nod off in her wheelchair while Tamara, and I watched TV.  A cold rain fell outside with an occasional flicker of lightning.

Suddenly the lights blinked off.

The whole street fell into rainy darkness.  We lit some candles.  The cat climbed onto Tamara's lap (who ever heard of a cat who was afraid of the dark?  well, we've got one.)  Savannah needed a diaper change, so I transferred her to the gurney.

Savannah glowing with laughter
Savannah was so excited by the low light (she's photo-phobic), the candles' dance, her sister's absence (visiting grandparents), and our conversation that she began to laugh.  She guffawed.  She burst.  She glowed.  When she laughs, she gives it her all, from her whole body, from her soul, from beyond this world.  She laughs so hard that her eyes clasp shut and she forgets to breathe.  If only I had her courage to express such unrestrained joy.

She is my teacher, my zen master, the only person I know with a shot at reaching nirvana.  She has transformed me:  First, she taught me that all the sorrow I'd ever experienced before her arrival was merely a shadow, a prelude to the crushing heartbreak she'd deliver; next she ground my ego into oblivion with stress and sleep deprivation, and then, just when I thought that life was a curse, she filled my soul with live-in-the-moment, life-affirming laughter.

I could listen to her laugh forever.

The electricity stayed off for hours, and Savannah laughed without pause.  We sponged her down by candle light while she laughed.  We put her in soft, pink pajamas while she laughed.  I brushed her teeth while she laughed.  We tucked her in bed and kissed her goodnight while she laughed.

Tamara and I retreated to arm chairs within a warm ring of candles.  The cat remained close, occasionally giving a plaintive cry. Without a nurse in the other room watching TV, without the record player and Savannah's sister, or the hum of the refrigerator, the house slipped into tranquility.

Rain tapped in the gutter drain.

The last fourteen years have delivered us so many hard nights, so many endless, sleepless nights full of ominous foreboding, when death hung in the darkness and fear crept by its side.  But not this night...  This night the dark brought laughter and in its wake, a profound peace.

"We should unplug every so often," I said, "and just enjoy this."

#specialneeds #disability #family #joy #laughter #peace #tranquility #meditation #zen #life #children #rain #darkness


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