For When You Need A Smile

They are having a candlelight vigil down at the high schooltonight but you don’t want to go so we hold one of our own. On the second day of February when that old groundhog sees his shadow we go looking for our smiles.
We’ll call it the walk until the sun goes down vigil, I tell my two growing boys. You leave your trig homework and Jeffrey leaves his drawing and Lucy Mae is waiting by the door. 
I’ve seen your eyes these past couple days. I’ve felt the weight of the heavy in your breathing. And when you need a smile, why don’t you go down and hop the creek? 
Because sometimes the only cure is to step outside—step outside of you and me and focus on stepping wide.
Why don’t you stare long into those muddy waters and startle three ducks out of hiding? Why don’t you walk in the marsh and get your school shoes all muddy—hold back the greenbriers so I can follow you? 
We’ll play hopscotch across, land careful on each glistening rock that sleeps in this sandy bed. And I won’t care if you slip and the water seeps up the leg of those pants. I won’t care if that brier rips a tiny hole in your shirt. Lucy will need to go straight to the wash but for now…we are smiling wide.
I’ll pick the burrs off your jacket, wipe my muddy hands on my knees and breathe deep the smell of fallen rain running thick through this muddy channel.
Your brother will take a short-cut because he can jump the creek better than us. And on the way home, as the vigil is coming to a close—as the sun begins to dip below those hills on the horizon…I’l tell you how loved you are. And you’ll grin crooked and tell me I talk too much, but you know what this is all about.  And I’ll tell you this: Never forget how loved you are. Let every choice you make be made knowing how loved you are.

And love is a living thing and it curls close around us. And there is this…there is this: Your smile.

with the amazing Emily:


  1. says

    oh that picture of a cross in the sky to remember. Yes. All such good waters for the muddy healing. I’m going to remember your line, “sometimes the only cure is to step outside—step outside of you and me and focus on stepping wide.” Love the way you communicated that truth.
    Still praying. It’s hard enough to deal with something like this as adults, but to have our children so drawn in by the nature of the situation challenges our hearts more. Glad they have a wise Mama who knows Who to turn to for comfort and guidance.

  2. says

    This one sparked the tears, friend. This seems like exactly the right kind of vigil somehow – deeply personal, together, yet with space for each individual, filled with reminders of love an all sides. Such a hard, hard thing. Continued blessings as you minister to your children during this tough, tough time. Hope you’ve got some folks who can minister to you as well.

  3. says

    I feel your pain. We had a similar tragedy here late last year.

    The hurt of seeing our children grieving for the very first time is so hard to watch.

    Thoughts and prayer


  4. says

    “The Lord bless you and keep you (and your family), the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.” Amen.

  5. says

    Laura, you have such a way about you with your boys… loving them, allowing them to ‘be’ and letting them get dirty while naming this walk/vigil… because they do know. God hold you all close. My tender sympathies.

  6. says

    You are giving your boys a gift they will carry for the rest of their lives. You are teaching them to cope, to smile, to remember, to cherish, and to continue loving and living! GOD BLESS YOU!!

    Hugs and prayers,

  7. says

    You make me love being a mother in this post. How sometimes where the crowds go isn’t where we need to be and only a mother knows how to read downcast and know how to make her child smile. Beautiful writing as usual Laura. I can see that mud on your knees!

  8. says

    Those first deep hurts…as the children learn loss, and as mamas learn that we can’t protect them from everything.

    Oh, how they grow us all.

    Beautiful growing here, Laura. Just beautiful.

  9. says

    Oh, Laura! Yes. This is how you love him well–picking the briars and wiping the muddy hands–even if you talk too much. (Don’t all mothers?) He will remember and know he is loved.

  10. says

    I love, “Let every choice you make be made knowing how loved you are.” I just wrote it down to keep and share…..Blessings to you and your boys…..Love, Cate

  11. says

    I have missed visiting this place! I love, love, love the last photo! and I was so drawn to this line: “I’ve felt the weight of the heavy in your breathing.”

    You have a way of expression!

  12. says

    Dear Laura,
    I have been praying for your family and community…when one heart hurts we all do, but I am confident that He is healing all who hurt.

    I would love to have you over at Painting Prose. We’ve decided to congregate at my place until dear Emily’s return. Please consider adding your beauty and grace.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *