The Dam of Smiles

I sat beside a remarkable woman on my flight yesterday. She was a good talker, and so I played my usual part of listener. Pretty soon I found myself on an emotional roller coaster ride. Her story was rife with suffering, yet she ornamented each trial with a smile and a disarming sense of humor. A life-threatening ailment, a high-risk surgery, multiple instances of children lost to illness and death. It was clear that tears had been shed at every single milestone, yet none was spent in the recounting of those sorrowful tales thirty-five thousand feet up in the sky. 
That is, not until she mentioned her mother-in-law. 

She spoke of an initial lukewarm relationship that had turned sharply cold for an extended period of time. Then, when she was recovering from a difficult surgery, in a dramatic turn of events, their relationship had blossomed into one of sincere caring, love and unwavering friendship. She had grown very close to her mother-in-law. And just as she had found solace from this unlikely quarter, her mother-in-law passed away, quite suddenly. 

That was when the dam of smiles broke and the tears seemed like they wouldn’t stop flowing. 
This poem is in honor of that woman and of the human spirit that endeavors to stand up a dam of smiles to hold back a rush of tears, that life may go on. Such a dam only breaks in remembrance of one who knows the waters behind it.
But there is always One who knows, whose sweet remembrance moistens hearts with tears.

The Dam of Smiles

I cannot say why I am weeping,

What fills me with sorrow today;
You know I am smiles no matter the wiles
That destiny tosses my way.

I’ve sailed on an ocean of pain,
Lost children I never could see,
And those that I saw and hoped would remain
So swiftly were taken from me.

Now you, how we hated each other,
And just couldn’t see eye to eye,
We’ve been through these storms, one after another;
I know that I’ll never know why

Your feisty old heart did incline
Toward me, for when I was down,
How well had your heart responded to mine:
We haven’t since traded a frown.

I feel better now that the dawn
Is warming my heart once again,
And just as it slips away, you are gone,
Abandoning me with no friend.

Yet here do I sit, through my tears,
I smile that the Lord gave to me
A mountain of hard tribulations and fears,
With rivers of love running free,

Depositing sweet memories
Of all of the times that we shared,
Thank God for my smiles that seem to increase
With every damage repaired.

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