His dry humor snuck out from wherever it had been hiding and zinged me as I was folding a load of towels. The crack was certain and swift and it surprised me. I stood at the kitchen table and threw my head back and laughed a belly laugh. It was the best feeling in the world to release the tension and close up whatever distance had come between us. It felt so good to hear him again and see his eyes catch the light of something playful - like he missed feeling separated from the family, too.
I missed his voice. His quick wit. His sarcastic humor. His waggish observations on life. I missed him being here and it felt like forever waiting for him to return. He wasn’t traveling -- that’s not why I missed him.
He leaves every morning and when he comes home he disappears in the house like he never arrived. He joins us at the table for meals but doesn’t engage with us like he once did. Instead we watched as pushed food around on his plate. He eats a little then waits the appropriate amount of time before he excuses himself from dinner. Somewhere in the house, the walls absorb him and he vanishes again.
Not every day can be filled with laughter. Not all weeks are good ones. Troubles and worries find their way into every family but when something as special as laughter disappears -- and then doesn’t return for several more days - you notice. And boy did I notice. My soul missed the laughter, the jokes, the one-liners and every wise-crack between us.
God, I missed him so much. I missed connecting with him. I missed visiting in the relaxed space between us -- where there wasn’t any tension or awkward silences. I hated the hard work it took to have a conversation - straining through topics and careful words that avoided anything that may wedge more distance between us. Moodiness and brooding is a part of a young life - he's growing and adapting and changing - and you hope that his unhappiness won’t hang around for long. But the laughter that day broke the spell! The tension, (for now) is shattered and laughter reverberated off the halls of our home.
The kitchen felt full that day and it had absolutely nothing to do with food. Laughter fed our soul that day. He received just as much nourishment in giving joy as I did receiving it. Laughter bridged the gap between us and for a little bit longer we can savor that connection that had been damaged. I told my teenage son I missed him. He smiled like he understood what I meant. And I know I’ll wait for him to come back again.