This I Believe: I believe in laughter

Essayist Rachel Koogle as a child
Essayist Rachel Koogle as a child, in a photo she hopes will make viewers laugh

By Rachel Koogle

I believe in laughter. 

Not the laughter that fills a blank space, but the laughter that makes your stomach curl up in a ball. Making people laugh is the cherry on top of an ice cream sundae. The only thing that can cure sadness is laughter—a laugh so hard that your gut hurts. 

I remember about three years ago now my parents told me that they were getting a divorce. When my mom told me, the words came out in slow motion. It didn’t feel real. It felt like I was day-dreaming, like I was in some sort of movie or it was a prank.  I didn’t know what to think or say or do, but I remember telling myself to “say something, do something!” and I did. I laughed. I laughed because I didn’t want to believe that was happening to me, and I thought it was so funny that it was actually happening to me. So I laughed. I laughed for days. I laughed for months on end. I laughed until I didn’t feel the need to cry and I laughed until I didn’t feel the need to be sad any longer. I laughed instead of self-harm, I laughed in the place of addiction, I laughed to cure my sadness.

Most people’s first reaction to tragedy is laughing because you can’t process what has happened to you, so the first instinct is to laugh. I learned that firsthand.

Laughter also makes the world go round. Without laughter, there would be no jokes; without laughter, there would be no bonding. The first time I remember laughter bringing me joy was when my grandpa was still alive.  I used to go to his camper which was so much fun. He had a golf cart that we used to ride around on. One of my favorite memories with him was when he was driving the cart and my foot was hanging out the side and my flip-flop fell off. When I told him, he started laughing and instead of turning around, he just backed the cart up until we drove over it again so I could get it. I will never forget how hard I laughed that day—I can almost guarantee you that I had tears rolling down my face.

My grandpa also used to make up songs to make my sister and me laugh. One song he made was about “Roosters, Socks, Sails, and Services.” My grandpa was a weird man, but that’s what made him funny and special to me. I remember the feeling I used to get around my grandpa; it was the feeling of happiness, the feeling of being whole. To this day I believe that I will never laugh as hard as I did with my grandpa. My grandpa always made people laugh and I don’t think we would have been nearly as close as we were if he didn’t make me laugh and smile and feel loved all the time.

So laugh. Laugh like someone just told you the funniest joke ever. Laugh like you just got off a rollercoaster. Laugh like everyone you love is surrounding you. Laugh like it’s your last day to laugh. 

I believe laughter cures sadness. I believe laughter brings happiness. I believe laughter brings people together. 

I believe in laughter.

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