Google the phrase ‘Cellar Door,’ and you’ll get a range of responses. The Wikipedia entry on the subject explains that J.R.R. Tolkien first described the sound the words make together as “intrinsically beautiful.” Say the phrase out loud, and you’ll understand. ‘Cellar Door,’ though it is the name of a physical object that is anything but beautiful, is just that.
‘Laughter’ spelled doesn’t look as pretty as it sounds. And if one is laughed at rather than laughs with, ‘laughter’ is not pleasing at all. But laughter, when it comes in its unbridled form from a child who has plucked happiness from a singular moment and embraced it in a hug, is beautiful. I love almost nothing more than listening to Taylor laugh. In those moments, ‘laughter’ is, to again borrow from Tolkien, “more beautiful than the sky.”
Yesterday, we went to Chapel Hill for the UNC – Georgia Tech women’s basketball game. Taylor got to meet UNC’s Coach Sylvia Hatchell beforehand and enjoyed the game – cheering louder than everyone else in the arena and at all the right times – from a seat right by the court. For my sister, though, her happiest moments came when Rameses, the UNC mascot, came to visit with her. The road from Charlotte to Chapel Hill stretches 150 miles, but I would have driven 15,000 to hear her laughter and see it in her eyes and in her smile in those fleeting moments.
Taylor has taught me a lot about what is beautiful, much of which comes from knowing how to appreciate the living elements in things, whether they be the whimsical notes of a cello or the whisper of the ocean as it laps against the shore. The cello and the ocean are also visually beautiful, but to recognize the beauty of their voices is to understand them more deeply. I have always loved the ocean, but I never truly heard its beauty until after my little sister had gone blind, when I went on a walk one early evening last summer and closed my eyes as the cool water washed over the tops of my feet and fell back again, over and over. I missed the sunset, but I didn’t feel as though I had lost anything at all. Taylor will never see another sunset in her lifetime, but she will forever teach me new things about the hues of golds and reds that grace the sky.