By Anne Maxwell
A childhood friend of mine has the best laugh.
I’m certain you know the kind I’m talking about. It’s the type of laugh that finds you laughing yourself. Not because it sounds strange. Not particularly because of what was said. Rather, you join in because you simply can’t help it.
I’ve heard it countless times for the nearly four decades I’ve known her. From misstepped eight-count dance routines and whiffed volleyball hits to failed parallel parking attempts and marching band miscues, her laugh became a soundtrack to my teenage years.
I never realized how unmistakable her laugh was until we were both married and expecting babies of our own. We were due within a month of each other. She was set to deliver first, but my firstborn had other plans. I went into labor three weeks early, she was days overdue.
As I cradled my newborn daughter, I wondered how I was going to call and break the news that I had ended up beating her to the maternity ward. She was more than ready to have that baby and her patience was understandably wearing thin.
I never had to make that call.
While I studied the tiny features of our baby girl and marveled at the blessing that had been gifted to us the morning after she was born, I suddenly heard a burst of laughter coming from the hospital room next to me.
And not just any laughter or laugh.
I looked at the nurse and said, “By any chance, is someone named Leigh Anne in the room next to me?”
HIPPA required her to politely explain why she couldn’t answer. Confirmation from the nurse was unnecessary.
I knew that laugh belonged to no one else.
We met up later as she walked the halls, attempting to hasten labor. Not much laughter was happening at that point as her pain progressed.
“I knew you were here …I heard you laugh,” I said.
Which, of course, made her laugh -- and, of course, I couldn’t help but join in.
It’s been years since we lived close to one another and as distance, families and work all have a way of doing, we don’t see each other often enough. When I do think of her, I think of that laugh, what a gift it is, and what makes it so great.
Simply put, Leigh Anne laughs with pure joy.
We hear a lot of noise in our world. A lot of negativity. A lot of opinions. A lot of criticism. But not necessarily joy.
When Leigh Anne opens her heart and laughter soars, others join in the chorus. Her distinctive sound results in so much more than idle noise.
It’s the sound of joy.
I have no doubt you also have a Leigh Anne in your life that harbors this very kind of laugh. Thanks to all of them for the laughs -- and for sharing their true selves. Goodness knows we all can use a laugh.
More importantly, we need joy.
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