Finding the Light in Her Smile

“This world is full of love… we still have hope…”

Finding the Light in Her Smile by Dennis Lowery

I wrote the following vignette (which begins after the reader comments) pre-coronavirus before the pandemic. But with that and so many world events still grimly gripping many of us, perhaps what we should understand is when bad things happen… it’s how we react and respond that determines the future. Do what we can to make it better than the present.

What some readers said about this:

“I’m lying in my own dark morning awaiting dawn with tears running freely. Such a timely word. A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. I needed this just now. I really needed this. Thank you.” –Cilla C.

“Dennis Lowery’s wisdom never fails to be practical and applicable. I hope you’re smiling by the time you get to the end, too.” –Cilla C., sharing the story on social media

“Dennis Lowery is a writer as well as a father, and sometimes gives us a sweet glimpse into parenting two great girls by means of a well-crafted short, short story.” –Jyoti Dahiya, sharing the story on social media

“Oh, what a beautiful story. And what a wonderful dad you are. I think I’ll remember this every time I’m holding on to a grump… and that can be often. Smiling now. Thank you.” –BobbieZen

“Dennis Lowery’s words are just what I needed to read this morning…maybe you need to read them, too.” –Bobbie Z., sharing the story on social media

“I love it!” –Eva Toma

“Beautiful!” –Charlene Talley

“A wonderful read. Breakfast table wisdom straight from life.” –Michael Koontz

“Lovely story. Thank you.” –Marsha Mooneyhan

“Awesome, you know I don’t know if this was meant for what I am thinking but; I think this could go a long way if people notice someone is always alone in the cafeteria for an example, choose to reach out to them, talk to them and treat them like a good friend, it could save or change there life.” –Diane Martin

“Your story reminds me of my own offspring (and myself, to be fair) and their occasional struggle with the sullen (at 13 and 15, it happens more frequently these days). There are times when we need to tackle it head-on and then there are times, as you articulated so well when it’s just best to just come at from a different angle. There is wisdom in knowing when and how to do the latter. Wonderful, Dennis.” –Sean Heffernan

“I first read this to myself, at Cilla’s prompting. I then read it aloud to the friends I’m sharing a cottage with. They enjoyed it as much as I did. ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ is now playing. Thank you.” –Sean Heffernan

“Absolutely a Cracker. Glad you shared it Cilla, thank you.” –Sat Biswas

“Beautiful, indeed and wise!” –Eve Aebi

“‘Waiting for someone or something to show you the way.’ Very good Dennis, very good indeed!” –Joe J.

“Awesome…thanks.” –AE

“That was beautiful, making the coming of morning seem the same as a smile. You had me smiling once I was done reading. Amazing!” –M.S.

The Vignette

Alpha was grumpy. I said, “Good morning,” and tried to cheer her up. It didn’t work. She had that expression like, ‘I’m in a bad mood, and I’m gonna hang on to it as long as I can.’

I know that sometimes we (humans) are perverse. Sometimes we cling to anger… jealousy… bad attitudes… and bad moments stretching them into longer than the ten or fifteen minutes they merited. But I also know gaining some perspective on that can help.

Beta came to the table, poured her bowl of Life (cereal) and milk, and went straight to eating. Alpha still sat there in front of her untouched cereal bowl of the same. I looked at my watch. The song ‘Time’ from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon popped in my head. I pulled the album up on my phone to play the song. Instead, I went with something else:

“It’s dark when I’m first there.” Now, with Alpha and Beta, I’ve learned all I need to do is say something like that and then wait. A question will come.

“Where?” Beta asked.

I pointed across the kitchen, over the bar across the family room, to the French doors into the backyard. “Out there.” I sat down next to Beta and looked at her. “Early in the morning, when I get up, it’s still dark. At first, it seems quiet, but then as my heart stills, and I’m in that moment… it happens.”

Beta was eating, but listening. Alpha wasn’t. She still had her face cradled in the palm of her hands with a flat, bit of a frown, look on her face. “I hear and see the day coming alive.” I stood and got some orange juice, came back and sat, but this time next to Alpha. “You see,” I continued. “It’s the same each day… the only difference is how the season feels on my skin. But warm or cool, I know what’s going to happen.” I smiled at Beta. “It’s certain.”

“What is?” Beta asked.

I turned sideways so I could also see Alpha. “It starts slow. The darkness hardly changes at first. Then you see the sky beyond the trees and just over the fence. It’s getting lighter. Sometimes it’s a grayish pale… sometimes it’s a warmer sliver of light yellow-red. It comes up, and you feel it grow. The day is being born. It’s no longer dark.” I knocked back the last of my juice and put the empty glass down next to Alpha’s hand. She had lifted her face from her palms, and they now rested on the table. I patted her hand, and she shifted a bit. “I love it when there’s a breeze because it creates its own sound, coming through the pines and live oaks, and it ebbs and flows. So, there I am with the sky brightening and the wind singing. From the darkness and quiet comes light and sound. And that makes me happy.”

Alpha turned toward me but said nothing. “Why does it make you happy?” Beta asked.

“Because as I feel the morning… seeing the light coming up makes me think of how smiles are born, too.” Alpha had a puzzled expression. I knew she was trying to work that out; to understand what I meant before she had to ask. I leaned to the side and tapped her chin with my index finger. “Sometimes inside our heads… it’s dark. We’re not happy. Something’s wrong, or something’s pissed us off. Now the thing is… we all can decide to stay in the dark… stay pissed off and unhappy. Or we can realize that there is always the dawn, and if we’re willing to be part of it, the simple beauty of that realization will or should make you smile.”

I brushed Alpha’s cheek. “And you have such a pretty smile!” And then it broke through. Just like the light beyond the trees and over the fence. Her smile. I gave her a kiss and then rose to do the same for Beta. “We decide what we keep our thoughts on and how we spend our time.” I picked up Beta’s empty cereal bowl and gave Alpha’s a look. She saw it and lifted her spoon, a grin now on her face. I took Beta’s to the sink, pulled my phone out and pressed play… and then started singing, “Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day…”

So this little story ends, but if you want, you can click the following link to listen to the song, Time (and sing along with me).

Or–now, March 2022–perhaps this song (which includes this refrain):

“This world is full of love…
we still have hope…”