I'm sure she did it today.

I've been watching in anticipation, awaiting it for the last few weeks. And today it happened.

Today, my newborn baby looked me straight in the face with her huge, innocent eyes — and smiled. It was a full toothless grin, flaunting her round dimpled cheeks and demonstrating that she finally knows who I am. For weeks, I'd cuddled her, spoken to her, rocked her on my shoulder, cooed to her and sang to her — and today she acknowledged that she recognizes me. She smiled back.

A friendly smile in passing greeting. A full, guttural laugh. These are ways that we humans communicate with one another. It is how we share our joy, kinship and friendship with each other.

Until today, my newborn baby, Sara Leah, communicated only through her crying. Babies cry... and wail... and cry some more. That is how they convey their discomfort — their hunger, their pains, their tiredness, their need to be changed or just held and coddled.

Our response to a baby's crying is automatic. Sara Leah will begin to cry and immediately a slew of little hands — ranging from my five-year-old son all the way up to my teenaged children — will surround her, all eager to pick her up and stop her screams. Invariably, my children's next question will be, “Does she want to eat now, Mommy? What's bothering her? Why is she crying?”

But crying is a baby's very effective way of communicating. The more upset she sounds, the more we'll attempt one thing after another just to curtail her distressing wails.

A silent tear. Bitter weeping. Hysterical sobs. These are ways that, from infancy upwards, we share with each other our sadness and sorrow, our pain and discomforts, our frustrations and disappointments.

Our tears and our sobs draw empathy. Our smiles and our laughter elicit happiness.

Tears and laughter — each conveys feelings on opposite ranges of the emotional spectrum. Yet both are our means to reach out to another, often more powerfully than any spoken word. After we've shared our joys and our sorrows, we feel better. It is how we communicate our need for a response — be it empathy, support or just kinship.

But then there are those times when we laugh or cry alone.

We received good news and, overflowing with happiness, we can't help but laugh out loud — even though no one is present to hear it.

And then there are times when we've experienced an overwhelming hurt — too personal and deep to share with another — and we retreat in solitude, our heart torn to pieces, overcome with sobs.

But if, from earliest infancy, we cry and smile as a form of communication, to whom are we communicating with these solitary tears and smiles?

Perhaps these tears and smiles indicate that even in our aloneness, we aren't ever really alone. That even in our solitude, we realize that we are sharing the deepest of our emotions. Intuitively, we understand that we are being heard — by the One who hears and sees all cries and smiles.

After experiencing a tragedy beyond our comprehension, the lonely tears cascading down our cheeks is our way of protesting to You, of beseeching You to put an end to our suffering. Or, as good fortune smiles our way and a grin forms across our features, it is our way of acknowledging our gratitude to You for all the good You shower on us.

From the very beginning of our lives, we use our smiles and our tears to communicate. Sometimes, it is our silent but powerful way of sharing with another person.

And sometimes — whether it is our intention or not — it is our truest way of expressing that deep down we realize, we are never alone.