497 miles of laughter

497 miles apart…

Wendy and I don’t get to see each other that often.  Actually, we’ve only gotten together 13 times since the summer of 2005.  Most people say, “That’s crazy!”  but we prefer to say, “That’s lucky!”  Thank God for phone calls and our regular and impromptu charlas that let us catch up, reminisce, and share in those amazing belly laughs, the kind that knock you down and leave you gasping for breath.  I remember a time when Wendy was pregnant and she was laughing so hard over the phone lines that she started wheezing.  Finally the words spluttered from her mouth that a big pregnant belly just didn’t let her belly laugh like before.  That baby was taking over her gasp-for-your-breath lung space!  Which of course only made us laugh harder and made Wendy wheeze a little bit more forcefully.  :o)  Those are the amazing moments when those 497 miles just don’t feel like 497 miles.  Sometimes those moments make you feel like you’re right there in each other’s kitchens laughing over a mug of tea, but sometimes they make you feel like you’re a thousand miles apart laughing into a little plastic phone as your tinny voice  gets carried over the cyber phone waves to a house far away in the mountains.

So this week I hit the pavement and left those 497 miles in the dust.  This week I went to those Pennsylvania mountains.  This week we bridged the gap to make those belly laughs a little bit more real.

Now, I’ve seen Wendy in her college days, her brand-new-job-what-am-I-doing-with-this-life-of-mine days, her just-met-the-future-hubby days, her blushing bride days, and her glowing pregnancy days.  This was Lucky Visit #13: Mommy and Baby Days!  This visit, I saw a new Wendy, one who was cuddling with her baby boy and falling more and more in love with him with each soft kiss of his head and smile from his lips.  I watched Wendy look at her son, her head tilting down and just drinking him in, taking in each and every small and precious moment with him.  But what I heard was even more vibrant and more real than those images… the Z house is filled with LAUGHTER!  Laughter of all kinds floats through the air: small little giggles, shy smiles behind baby hands, Daddy’s chuckles, Mommy’s shrieks of glee, and this bubbly baby laugh that weaves around your heart and brings a huge smile to your face because you cannot possibly help laughing at the sound of this baby’s joy.  Zack becomes ELATED when you tickle him just so, or toss him up in the air, or open your mouth into a huge smile for him to imitate.  At only 6 1/2 months old, he even has his own version of a belly laugh.  The Zachary Belly Laugh is this bubbly little cackle/guffaw that swallows itself at the end, and then bubbles out all over again to create this funny kind of chuckle.  Of course, this puts Mommy, Daddy, and Auntie Gem into hysterics, starting the little guy off all over again with his laugh.  One night this week the four of us sat on the floor for a good 15 minutes just LAUGHING.  The joy was tangible and you could practically see the laughter convert itself into these little soap bubbles floating around the room, bouncing off the walls and ceiling, and popping all over the place as one laughter bubble collided with another…….


That’s what I will take away with me as I drive those 497 miles back to my own home.  And the next time Wendy and I pick up the phone and share in one of those belly laughs that leave us gasping for breath and clutching at our abs, I will smile and I will remember that she is teaching her son the joy of this laugh  and the healing power of such a laugh.  I will know that those 497 miles really aren’t that far because it’s not the phone lines or the highways that are connecting us… it’s the laughter.

~Auntie Gem

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