Like people across America, yesterday I was taking special time to think of all that I’m thankful for in my life. The list going through my mind was long. In the process of the moment, the thought of someone very special to me came to mind. Her name is Galina.
I met Galina and her husband 25 years ago in a former Soviet Republic. We became fast friends which quickly moved into being more like family. The days and weeks I would spend in their home remain some of my sweetest memories. I don’t recall a day passing that Galina didn’t laugh about something. She is like that to this day; no matter any difficult circumstances that may take place in her life, she will find a way to smile; she will be laughing at something.
Once she told me the following story which kept me spellbound! She told of a time when the country was still a part of the USSR. Galina became very ill and was taken to the hospital where she was diagnosed with appendicitis. The appendix needed to be removed and quickly, but there was a problem; the hospital had no anesthetic to put her to sleep. Can you imagine how wide my eyes grew just in hearing that part of the story?
“What happened?” I gasped.
“I clutched the bed rails and lay there while the surgeon took out my appendix,” she replied.
“Did you cry?” I asked, while clutching my right side in empathy.
“I wanted to scream!” she said, “but I knew I had to be still.”
She went on to tell me that she felt the surgeon’s hands inside the incision. “The best part,” she told me, “was when I could feel the surgeon sewing me up.” Suddenly I wanted to scream, too, but the story didn’t end there. She explained that, when the last stitch was done, she was taken into recovery and told she could now let go of the bed rails. She tried but her fingers were solidly holding on. A nurse pried free one finger at a time. Listening to the story, I gasped yet again, when she told me that the intensity of the ordeal was such that, as the nurse loosed her fingers, the skin on the palms of her hands actually peeled off!
“The healing of my hands was the worse part of it all,” she told me. “It took several weeks before the skin restored and the pain stopped.
Whew! Does the reading of this story do to you what it did to me? Gasping, mouth-opened, feeling of horror washing over? How did Galina react with the retelling of this event to me? Why, she laughed, of course.
In 25 years of our close and dear relationship, I have watched her and her family face life’s struggles that come to all of us, and with my every observation of Galina, she was and is an example of the power of laughter. How thankful I am to Galina for her heart, and to God who created each of us with the ability to laugh.
If at all possible, find something everyday to smile at and to laugh about. There comes healing of the heart with every chuckle.
“A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit.” Proverbs 15:13