Everyday is Father's Day in Laughter, Tears and Braids

The month of June is all about celebrating Dads for all of the accomplishments, big and small. Thoughts of families and the triumphs and troubles intrigue me as happy times are par for the course. Family structures have morphed into so much more than the traditional roles that prevailed generations ago for a myriad of reasons. There have been progressive changes where typical gender roles have been abandoned as ancient ruins, no longer relevant in today's society. There have been setbacks too, as core values and traditions have disintegrated into a valueless breed far removed from ancestral morals. Laughter, Tears and Braids delves into the intrigue of Bruce Ham's family as they grieve and grow following the loss of his wife and mother to their three young daughters to cancer. There's no better time to celebrate this inspiring dad, everyday is Father's Day in Laughter, Tears and Braids - A father's journey through losing his wife to cancer.

Cancer is the ugliest six-letter word that I can imagine. I can't say the word without getting that painful lump in my throat or blinking away tears. I am as disgusted by cancer as I am terrified by cancer. How dare it exist? When I first began to read Laughter, Tears and Braids - A father's journey through losing his wife to cancer, so lovingly written by Bruce Ham, I closed the book. My initial gut reactions to cancer combined with the transparency and vulnerability shared in his passionate letter to his three daughters was overwhelmingly heartfelt and moved me to tears then smiles and sometimes both simultaneously. I was done.

The three beautiful girls with the sun kissed hair on the cover of the book challenged me. Laughter, Tears and Braids were their father's words that when the time comes, will be shared with each of the girls, in their own special time. Stories and sentiments shared in the book will sometimes be familiar, sometimes not. The emotional connection that this family has to the story outranks any of my sad feelings.  The most profound words in Ham's letter, "If anyone else reads this book, I hope they too will take something away." I accepted the challenge and read on. 

Honestly, Ham's Laughter, Tears and Braids was one of the most complex novels I have read to date. While the concept of grief is simple to comprehend, the levels of emotions complicate matters. The sentiments expressed were raw, the realness transcended the pages and I grieved too. While I generally pride myself on my ability to find reading groove and become so immersed in a book that the storyline flashes through in an uninterrupted stream of drama. My reading pace was definitely more reverent, contemplating every word, every action, every reaction. Similarities between our worlds were as enrapturing as our differences. Having faced and conquered the challenge of Laughter, Tears and Braids, finding the words to reflect my feelings afterward found me at a loss. 

Everyday is Father's Day when you are the last parent standing, confused as to whether to consider life a win or lose. Bruce Ham is a winner in the face of loss. In his words, "I am indeed a better man because my wife died." I recommend reading this journal-turned-novel to anyone faced with the fight against cancer, to anyone caring for a family or friends living with cancer or to anyone curious about the destructive effect cancer takes on families everyday. Therapeutic does not begin to describe the power of Ham's cleverly honest words. I don't know if I will be able to accept the challenge to read Laughter, Tears and Braids ever again, my tear-stained, snotty copy will forever remind me to appreciate how much our family matters to me. I'm in on Bruce's bargain with God, "I'll never take them for granted again." 

Now I challenge you. 

Read Bruce Ham's blog, The Real Full House.  Read Laughter, Tears and Braids


Happy Father's Day Danny Tanner!
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