The Right Place

I had an 8 am dentist appointment this morning.  I do this all the time – I schedule a dentist appointment 6 months out for 8 a.m. with the thought that I’ll be the first one in and make it to the office on time, with no major interruption in my day…of course, the problem comes in the night before when you realize that being somewhere by 8 a.m. is more than a notion. 

I made it to my appointment on time, but that’s not the point of the story – the point is that I was supposed to make this appointment.

The Dental Hygienist that cleaned my teeth was nice, she walked in, asked me if I was on any medication, asked if there were any places in my mouth that hurt and then she got right to work. 

It started off as the typical exchange – she was asking me questions, I was trying to answer with my mouth wide open…you know how that goes.  But, somewhere between the plaque cleaning and the tooth buff, the hygienist told me about the recent loss of her niece; a young Howard University student who had recently lost her life in a freak car accident.  My hygienist spoke of a dream in which her niece had visited her and offered comforting words; she spoke of the confusion and pain that her brother-in-law is experiencing as he no longer receives the morning texts that he used to exchange with his daughter…she shared that the texts consisted of…Good morning fat head (from the daughter), with a typical reply of Good morning fat head jr. (from the Dad!)

She also shared the story of the loss of her nephew a little over a year ago and how she was grappling with the loss of two young lives – the fact that her young children had to deal with burying two cousins, the fact that she was working through the grief, and the fact that she was grappling with understanding why these two young people had lost their lives. 

As I listened to her stories, watched her face, and heard the slight cracks in her voice – I knew that I was supposed to make the 8 a.m. appointment. 

DS Download:  I did more listening than talking this morning, and by listening to this woman’s stories I felt privileged to learn about these two young lives that were not long for this world. 

I left the office feeling as if I had been included in the woman’s healing process, and that I had learned about two people who had made an impact on this planet during their short life. 

In the end I learned that her nephew had passed away as a result of rescuing two young children that had fallen in the water – inexplicably drowning in the process (he was a strong swimmer)…I learned that her niece had suffered head trauma after a fall that resulted in leaning on a car that accidently pulled off.  The pain in her eyes asked the question why?…she expressed that she was trying to understand why God had cut these two lives so short?  She was not a “religious” person but she was trying to put the pieces together.

In the end, the only thing I could think to share was that she might try and consider that death took her niece and nephew, but God is now loving them, and that by sharing their stories she was keeping their memories alive – making life stronger than death…I left the office and I emailed her the quote below…that quote has given me strength when I was grappling with death, more specifically the unexpected death of my grandfather.  It’s nice to be reminded during the dark times, that as the living, our love for lost ones gives us some level of power over death…thanks for listening. 

“Love is stronger than death even though it can’t stop death from happening, but no matter how hard death tries it can’t separate people from love. It can’t take away our memories either. In the end, life is stronger than death.”

2 thoughts on “The Right Place

  1. That’s a deep story about a simple routine visit to the dentist’s office. At first I wondered how someone might feel so comfortable sharing the deeply personal stories of something as traumatic as the untimely death of not one – but two – young people in her family. Who were you? A woman whose mouth she was tasked to clean, nothing more.

    Then I remembered when my own aunt was murdered and the way my mother shared the story with seemingly everyone who would listen, no matter how randomn they were to her life. For some people, retelling the story is like reliving it. For others, I think it’s a kind of emotional conditioning exercise to leading our hearts to accept the loss. Sometimes I think when things like that happen to us, every time we share the story with someone else, it’s like we’re stitching back together one more wound within our broken hearts. The mind and heart are often rivals. However, when the mutually shared body they serve experiences the concussive pain of death, they seem to agree that talking about it helps both of them to do their jobs a bit more effectively. And I think it’s a great thing whenever we can help make that process – healing – a little better for someone else, especially when we can identify with the other person’s pain. Good for you for listening, Christina…I bet it’ll come back to you in a very Blessed way when you least expect it.

  2. C, this is such an amazing post. I really love this and it gives me a little to digest on my own with the much needed reminder – it’s not always about me. Actually, most of the time, it’s not.

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