When I was about twelve years old I was visiting my grandparents in Las Vegas. I remember being in the back bedroom with my brother and two younger male cousins. All of a sudden I heard laughter coming from the front of the house. I looked at the boys and noticed that they seemed to not hear it. I felt as if the laughter was calling me to the front of the house. I left the room, dodging controller cords from the Nintendo, and headed down the hallway to the front of the house. I looked at the family pictures as I passed smiling at the old pictures of people I knew, and a few I didn’t. As I entered the living room the men of the family briefly glanced at me and almost immediately returned their gaze to the blaringly loud TV. Once I turned right into the dark kitchen I could see the women of the house sitting at the dining room table illuminated only by the dimmed chandelier.
There were five of them at the table; my mom, my aunt Anita (who I bore a remarkable resemblance to), my aunt Linda, my Abuelita (my grandmother), and my auntie Annie (my grandmother’s sister). I paused a minutes as another eruption of laughter occurred causing me to wonder if they were laughing atme. A worry immediately assuaged by my mother’s smile and open arms as she welcomed me to the table. Shy as all get out I crawled into my mother’s lap as best I could at twelve. They all smiled at me as the conversation continued, each taking turns telling old family lore which always had a hilarious ending. With each bout of laughter I felt their energy and strength flow into me. Some stories were fun from beginning to end and some started out very sad, but they all ended in laughter. From that day on I was one of them and spent many nights soaking in their laughter, stories, and strength.
Today is a cancerversary for me. Four years ago I was diagnosed with cancer and forced to wean my youngest daughter all in one very long day. Four years ago I was able to tap into the energy absorbed from all those nights and plow forward into this new state of being that includes cancer. Today I look back as those powerful women in my life looked back. I do not see the pain and the hardship. I only see stories, strength, and most importantly laughter. I look forward knowing that, while that table and that dining room are gone, they will always be with me giving me strength and reminding me to look at all the good in life. Today is a happy day to live and laugh another day.