The Smile that Shines Through Tears

Updated: Jul 16, 2019

I committed this poem to memory when I was going through a particularly hard time in life and it has stayed with me for almost 30 years. It has been a source of strength, encouraging a positive perspective on those days when everything seems to go wrong.

I had one of those mornings several years ago. My younger sister had been rushed to the hospital the day before with the symptoms of an aneurism, and the situation felt dire. This particular morning, she was scheduled for a very important procedure that could result in good or bad news, and I felt I should be there.

I’d been at the hospital for several hours the evening before, so I was exhausted when I pulled myself out of bed to get the kids up and moving. I would have to drop them off at school before I headed to the hospital in Dallas, an hour away. I hurriedly showered so I’d have enough time to manage things before I left.

Suddenly, Emma burst into my room, remembering that she was supposed to have been at school an hour earlier for her middle school basketball tryouts. I’d had a church activity the same night of the information meeting, so my husband had attended instead. Unfortunately, the early morning tryouts never made it on the family calendar.

This was important to her, so I stopped and searched for details about the tryouts. Was today the only day? Was it too late? As it turns out, the coach had emailed about it but, with all that was going on with my sister, I hadn't seen it.

I had a little twitch of mom guilt. I just wasn't on my “A” game and by then, it was too late to take her to the tryout. Disappointed that she had forgotten, she left in tears. All we could hope for was some understanding from the coach. I knew it was not likely, but I would write her to explain . . . though it would have to be later because we had to go!

I was now more frantically trying to get ready as time was running out. If the kids were to be on time, we’d have to leave in a matter of minutes, but I wasn't ready, and the dog still needed to be fed and taken outside.

I took a deep breath and calmly decided I’d have to regroup. I’d take the kids to school and then come back to quickly finish up before heading to Dallas.

That's when I heard Derek cry out in anger and despair. He had caught the dog chewing his one-week-old, very-expensive-to-replace retainer (a scenario which we [and the orthodontist] had warned him about repeatedly). Now, Derek was in tears and we were supposed to be leaving!

These are the moments that try a mom’s soul. I just stood there, unable to cope. My mind was swirling, my emotions kicked into full-panic mode, and I felt I might come unglued.

I needed to be on my way to the hospital NOW. What if something goes wrong and I’m not there?

This morning had turned upside down. Both kids were sad and mad and crying. My knee-jerk response was to yell at the dog, who quickly tucked his tail and ran into his crate.

“We have got to go!” my mind was crying out.

Now, in my younger mother years, I would have pressed on in stubborn frustration, yelling and crying and hustling the kids out the door anyway. We would have arrived at our destinations upset and I would have later been filled with regret.