She’s someone you remember as a smile. Bright eyes. Easy to laugh. Upbeat. The type of person that makes you wonder if they’ve ever had a bad day. Makes you wonder if she’s ever had to walk home in the rain. If she’s ever been dumped or turned down for a job.
On Sunday, she found out she has to have heart surgery. It’s scheduled for Wednesday. Tomorrow. Midway through her spring break. It’s her second this year. It’s one of a dozen in her life. It’s not her knee. Not her shoulder. Not arthritis. It’s her heart.
She is a smile and I wonder where she finds it.
It’s bright sun outside. The cherry blossoms are busting with color. It smells nice outside. And the birds can’t shut up. Girls walk by with a bounce in their step, dimples out in full effect. Everyone seems to be smiling everywhere I go.
But don’t understand how I could smile. I don’t understand how anyone can. When friends have to have heart surgeries twice a year. When everyone is lonely. When friends die in car crashes. When kids in Africa are born with AIDS. When couples in Uganda are prosecuted for their sexuality. When millions of people will never know anything besides poverty.
I don’t know how to smile. When the weight of all this hurt presses down. I feel the imbalance in my gut. I can’t see the scales as being even. The cherry blossoms and sun shine can’t outweigh cancer and poverty. I feel like if I were to smile, I would have to trick myself.
And those few who smile honest. The ones who seem to come as close as humanly possible to being a good person. The people who bake brownies for the brokenhearted. Who serve soup to homeless. Who split pitchers with the depressed. These people don’t get a free pass. They seem to suffer more for their good hearts. When I see them smile, with honesty in their eyes, I can’t help but wonder if they're blind or dumb.
I feel dumb when I smile. Or at least I do today. But when I think of my friend going in for heart surgery, I hope she never feels dumb when she smiles.