Sometimes I wonder why I do what I do, but today was a day when the answer became crystal clear.....
I arrived in Grand Rapids yesterday fairly early in the afternoon and thought I should make a practice drive out to Gilda's Club. While I waited to speak with my host, I noticed a very tearful woman, obviously new to this entire cancer business, talking with one of the volunteers. I saw her pain, her grief over her diagnosis, but the only words I overheard were, "What am I going to do?"
Friday morning the group for Laughter Yoga kept getting bigger and bigger, until I had to move them from the room they had planned into a much larger one. The participants were all very receptive, really got into the entire routine, laughed their heads off - it was a GREAT session; however, I was extremely disappointed that not even one member of Gilda's attended. Then it hit me....this event was about making money for Gilda's Club and since what I am doing is free, why would they be paying any attention to me or what I do? Truthfully, it dampened my spirits a bit.
Other than me on Friday, Gilda's was dead...not even my host was there. I finished the session, grabbed my computer and headed for one of their wonderful little quiet rooms to work for a few hours...or so I thought. A woman was sitting in the room reading, so I asked if she minded if I joined her. She looked rather forlorn, but quickly told me that she had really enjoyed the laughter session, but initially, she wanted to sneak out the door, but worried that I would see her, she stayed. She thought it sounded a little too "touchy, feely" for her.
She went on to say that she enjoyed the session so much and was very happy that she stayed, because it was the first time since her diagnosis three weeks earlier that she had smiled, much less laughed, and that it was the first relief and release she had felt. She went on to say, she felt an unexplained, wonderful closeness with a group of total strangers as they laughed and hugged together. As we continued to talk, suddenly I recalled her face - she was the tearful woman I had seen the previous day. Her thanks to me for the session were profuse....and so the conversation between two women who 24 hours earlier had been total strangers continued for the next two and one-half hours!
Our conversation revealed that we had much in common - two single, extremely independent, always in control women who suddenly felt completely out of control when confronted with a cancer diagnosis. It was one of the most in depth, honest conversations I have ever had with anyone, I think because we shared so much of the same kind of personality. I encouraged her to come again to laugh with us, but surgery next Wednesday has her schedule pretty tight. Her surgery will be almost at the same time as the laughter session, so I told her we would send healing ripples of laughter her direction next Wednesday.
The entire experience made me realize why I am here, what a connector of people laughter is and despite being free, the benefits are priceless!