When my nephew Sammy was about nine-years-old, he contracted a very serious viral infection. He was always a healthy little boy, athletic and never really ill - and certainly always happy. He never really had a big appetite, but during that one particular period, he wasn't eating very much at all. And he very much worried everyone in the family.
I knew for certain one day that the infection was serious, when he and his Mom - my sister, Pam - came over to see our parents (Frances and Herbie P.).
Sammy was bone thin, pale and weak.
I was so disturbed by his appearance, that I was forced to turn my head and cry, being sure not to show him my tears. For he certainly was not crying himself, and I did not want to make even a dent in his courage.
Instead - I thought only to make him laugh...to encourage him to be more joyful than he already was - and remains to this day.
For not only does Sammy laugh - but he loves to laugh...and he can't wait to laugh. And not in a mean-spirited way at the expense of others. But he loves to laugh the real joyful kind of laughter.
So, those now fifteen years or so ago, I had to act quickly. I had to swiftly somehow dry my tears.
I then turned to him, pulled him close and hugged him hello. Real tight.
I felt the bones on his back - and I almost cried some more. But I kept it together...concentrated...and somehow gathered my emotions...and recalled every joyful thought or joke I could muster...making a new few laughs along the way.
And then Sammy started to laugh...and I continued to tell jokes.
And he laughed some more.
And then some more.
And more still.
And my jokes kept coming...and he kept laughing - especially when I threw in a few silly physical manic moves of a clown.
A desperate clown.
Though Sammy never knew how desperate I really was to make him laugh.
And it didn't matter.
All that mattered is that he laughed.
And then a few days later - we all smiled.
Sammy was eating again, and gaining weight. He was getting healthier - and finally, his very serious viral infection was gone - replaced by a very happy infectious laughter and healing joy - that he continues to share to this day.