Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

June 2, 2013


You can still hear the laughter after they’re gone


          Somewhere my wife found a plaque with these words on it: “If you love somebody enough, you can still hear the laughter after they’re gone.”

The plaque sits on a dresser in our bedroom. In front of it is a picture of my sister Laurida and another of our son David. Each one was laughing heartily when the picture was made.

The author of that statement was right. When I look at the picture of my sister I can still hear her boisterous laughter though she died almost 20 years ago. Never timid, Laurida laughed “all over” when she laughed. Watching her laugh was more enjoyable than whatever we were laughing about.

She must have been a wonderful mother because her seven children are all fine people. Like my mother Laurida was a dedicated “homemaker.” Her great love was her family and her children knew it – and were blessed by it. I am sure each one was shaped in some way by the influence of a godly mother who left this world all too soon.  

I don’t remember seeing my sister cry but one time. That time she shed tears of joy while lying in bed, soon to succumb to cancer. The occasion was the marriage of her daughter Margie to Warren Clark Johnson.  I joined them in holy matrimony at the foot of her bed because she was too weak to have made a trip to church.

I do remember Laurida laughing every time we were together. She loved life and when she laughed she put her whole body into it. So it’s true – I loved her enough that I can look at her picture and still hear her laughing.

Memories of our son David are a bit different. I do remember him crying many times, especially during the long months of his terminal illness. Pain produces tears – especially for children. And their pain is compounded for parents who are helpless to explain why an innocent child must suffer.

One of my worst memories is of David begging me to not let a nurse hurt him with needles while giving him a blood transfusion. I could think of no way to explain why his daddy would allow someone to hurt him.  On so many days he cried himself to sleep in my arms or his mother’s arms.

But we made no pictures of David crying. We did make several of him laughing vigorously. He did have moments of sheer joy. Those are the pictures we cherish. One of the best of those pictures sits in a small frame in front of the plaque. When my wife put it there it was her way of affirming the words: “If you love somebody enough, you can still hear the laughter after they’re gone.”

Life is a mixture of tears and laughs, of joy and sorrow, of pain and pleasure. Were there no pain we could not appreciate the pleasure. The challenge is to not let pain and sorrow defeat us. Faith in a loving God who hurts when his children hurt is the key to winning.

Sometimes when I stop and listen to the laughter of Laurida and David, I think I hear the Father laughing also. His victorious laughter mingled with theirs reminds me that the dark night of sorrow must inevitably give way to the joy of the eternal morning.

Am I sure of that? Yes, I am. It was confirmed in my heart by the One who said he came that we might have joy. Laughter springs from that joy in our hearts. + + +