The anatomy of Natalie’s smile

How many of life’s problems could be solved or at least made less severe by a simple, kind smile?

The passing of city resident Natalie Comer earlier this week made me pause to consider this question.

ComerY Display

The Hilliker YMCA set up a display for its employee Natalie Comer who died unexpectedly this week at age 42. The caption under Natalie's photograph reads: "Natalie was a faithful and trusted employee and friend to the Hilliker YMCA. She came to work every day with an eagerness and keen enjoyment for life. Her pleasant caring and giving nature was an inspiration to the entire community. We will miss you Natalie." (PHOTO | HILLIKER YMCA)

Natalie’s smile is one of the things I, and I suspect many others, will remember about her.

A smile such as her's says so much about a person without the need for words. It is a feature that is at once disarming and shows the recipient “I’m approachable, friendly and, most importantly, I care.”

To those lucky enough to have caught a serendipitous flash of her smile, there was no hidden agenda behind it. Just a desire to befriend and help others and to make the place she lived in better.

I take away a broader lesson from Natalie’s smile: the use of this age-old gesture of friendship on a daily basis with those we encounter might be far more effective than any law passed or program implemented to reduce violence and mend broken souls.

Not to mention, a nice smile can be helpful with a host of other important life events like getting a job, making a friend and winning over the heart of a mate.

It’s been said you never know what impact you have on others, and the little things you do can have significant influence.

At Natalie’s upcoming services, there will likely be people who testify about how her life touched theirs.

Many of her friends are now busy planning wonderful tributes in her honor, which, no doubt, will manifest themselves in the coming days.

But, I hope people will remember her smile and that it’s important to share their own with everyone they meet.

I think Natalie would agree.

T.J. Hubbard is assistant general manager of the Examiner. He can be reached at