All Will Be Well: The Smile That Saved Me

My husband’s smile was enchanting. There was something about the sparkle in his bright blue eyes and the way his face lit up when he curled up his lips that will be permanently etched into my brain forever.

Dan’s smile warmed even the coldest moments and brightened even the darkest days. It’s hard for me to put into words what made my husband so wonderful. I do know that whatever it was, in turn, made me more wonderful, made our marriage more wonderful, and made my life all-around more wonderful. What I also believe is that Dan’s passion for love, loving, and smiles quite likely had something to do with it. Dan was a joy to be around. He was kind-hearted, gentle, fun, funny, and had a unique ability to settle a stressful moment with his positive perspective.

All I have left of Dan’s smile is photos, along with the memories in my mind. I took a lot of photos of us together. I captured many moments throughout our four year marriage journey. Now, more than ever, I’m so glad I did. We had a far-from-normal marriage peppered with far-from-normal catastrophes. And through it all, whenever physically possible, Dan smiled. His smile had a unique way of easing my fears and letting me know that all was well.

Dan’s smile saved me when cancer struck. When he began to lose his hair for the first time as a result of the toxic chemo, fear overwhelmed me. I worried about how he would look, if he would be upset, if I would still find him attractive, and if things would change between us. And Dan smiled. We threw a party and shaved his head. Dan’s smile saved me from the fear of this new thing called cancer that invaded our lives.

haircut
Dan’s smile saved me on our wedding day. I had the jitters and felt nervous to be the center of attention. I worried about how everything would turn out. I stressed about the details. But Dan smiled at me and those concerns disappeared. It was just the two of us on our perfect wedding day. He told me I was beautiful and my fears were gone.

weddingDan’s smile saved me on our honeymoon. Dan, the adventurer, planned eight days worth of dangerous activities to fill our Costa Rican vacation – zip lining, volcano hiking, and tarantula hunting, to name a few. It was a far cry from the all-inclusive resort I’d had in mind. I was scared, to say the least. And Dan’s smile saved me. He held my hand, flashed me his daredevil grin, and assured me he’d be at my side the whole time.
Hanna dangeroushoneymoon

Dan’s smile saved me at the hospital, after a near-death case of pneumonia left him in a medically-induced coma. I spent three days at his bedside where his smile was hidden behind a thousand tubes, beneath his sleeping face, subdued by gallons of medication pumping through his veins. I dreamed of his smile, of his laugh, of his voice. I cried and prayed and wept and prayed, begging for him to wake up. Dan woke up and breathed on his own. He smiled at me and squeezed my hand. Even without words, I knew he was okay. Dan’s smile saved me.
intensive care unit

Dan’s smile saved me in hospice. When I knew he was going to die, I felt scared, sad, heartbroken, and defeated. I mourned over the moment that incessantly crept closer each day. I endured immense pain, watching leukemia take over his weakening body. Through his pain, and through his decline, Dan smiled. His smile saved me from the fear of that old thing called cancer that invaded our lives. In that intimate moment, there was just the two of us, and my fears were gone. Dan grabbed my hand and smiled, assuring me he’d be at my side for all time. He smiled and squeezed three times. His smile told me he was okay. Dan’s smile saved me.

hospice smile

Smiles are powerful. They are simple. It only takes a second to form your lips into one, but the impact can last a lifetime. Dan didn’t always smile. He frowned and he cried and he scowled, at times. But he smiled more often. He gave one to everyone he encountered and he gave a special one to me. When my husband smiled at me, all was well. When he smiled, I smiled. When he smiled, I felt loved, and when I felt loved, I felt happiness. Smile more. Frown less. Make people happy. Save someone – your smile means the world.

Hanna
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6 Comments

  • Dear Hanna,

    reading this gave me hope. My boyfriend (or ex), I am not sure, just had a bone marrow transplant and doesn’t want me around. He says that sometimes, when we love, we need to let the other one go. And he let me go so I won’t suffer. It’s been very hard to wake up without his smile, the sound of his voice. My only option for now is to respect his decision. But he’s my love and I’ll fight for him.
    You found love and lived it. The good thing about love is that it never ends. I hope you have a great life.
    Priscilla

  • Hanna, This post reminds me so much of my own husband, Tom, who was killed in June after our motorcycle that we were riding was hit by an unlicensed driver. Your description of Dan reminds me so much of Tom. My husband brought so much joy to my life, and I also have photos and memories of our time together that will last a lifetime. Thank u for allowing me to share in your story. I have been following your blog site since shortly after our accident, and your words have helped me immensely. God bless!

  • Hanna, I’m a Lycoming friend of Colin, and I couldn’t agree more. My wife Briar is 2.5 years into a battle with brain cancer, and we smile at each other and laugh OUT LOUD with each other every single day. Our doctors, nurses and therapists have said more times than we can count that there is something different about us, and I get the feeling you guys got similar comments. I think you hit the nail on the head about the smiling, laughing, and positive thoughts. We wear our faith in God on our sleeves as well. As a fellow caretaker who is still fighting with my best friend, I sincerely thank you for this post. 🙂

    • Andy, thank you for reading and thank you for your comment. I hope you continue to find and experience little joys every day. My prayers are with you as a caregiver that you continue to selflessly ease your wife’s suffering. Good luck with treatment – I hope you both experience much health in the future. Keep smiling 🙂

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