William figured out how to giggle yesterday.
He's been working on it for a while now — about a month, give or take. Which doesn't sound like much, I know. But when you take into account that a month constitutes more than a third of his life, it's a Pretty Big Deal (PBD).
Especially since he's been aching to do it. You could just see it in him. His mom or dad would be playing or cooing with him, and his face would light up with an enormous, toothless smile. His little arms would flail and his chubby little legs would kick and churn, and it looked like he was about to explode with laughter.
But he didn't. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't giggle. He could grin and coo and squeal — sometimes all at the same time. But he couldn't giggle.
His mother was playing with him, doing the "rocks" fist bump thing that the kids do these days. Something about his mom bumping his tiny fist with hers while she smiled and said "Rocks!" sort of brought it all together for him. He smiled broadly. He flailed his arms wildly. He kicked his legs excitedly. And, for the first time in his life, he giggled — long and loud.
Not only that, he also chuckled, chortled, tittered, sniggered and snickered. He was the entire laugh track — plus drool.
As far as his parents are concerned, it was the discovery of penicillin, the lunar landing and the conquest of Everest, all wrapped up into one gurgled guffaw. Within moments of William's jocular eruption, digital documentation of the event was appearing on cellphones, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds around the world. It's possible that a puff of white smoke curled out of the Vatican chimney, and the crowd in the plaza cheered: "Habemus gigglem!"
Or words to that effect.
Yes, I know. We're just talking about a baby giggling here. Babies have been giggling for … well, as long as there have been babies (Abel was definitely a giggler — Cain, maybe not). But for William, this is a first. Therefore, in the minds of his parents, it's PBD material.
It's amazing how exciting trifles can be when they are OUR trifles — especially when they are intensified by time and circumstance. Firsts — first steps, first words, first day at school, first date, first time crashing the family car through the garage door — are almost always PBDs.
And evidently, so are lasts.
On the same day that William was learning to giggle, Chanda, a young friend of mine, was told by her doctors that they have run out of medical options to cure her cancer. She was sent home, put on hospice and told to enjoy the time she has left with her family. This extraordinary young mother has put up an incredible — and incredibly upbeat and positive — fight through her ordeal, and she courageously insists that her battle is not over.
Through it all, she says, she has learned to cherish even the smallest and most mundane of moments. Like William's parents, she has learned what a big deal little deals can be. She recently posted a message for her friends through social media, talking about how much she treasures "laying with my baby, Ellie, and watching her sleep next to me. Holding her hand, softly kissing her cheeks and whispering things to her while she sleeps."
For most of us, such things are trifles that we hardly even notice and rarely remember. But from Chanda's perspective, they are moments of the purest and most lasting delight. In her mind, at this unique and painful place in her life, these are the things that matter — these are moments to relish and savor, today and forever. They are little deals that become big deals when viewed through the lens of love.