I am reading through Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott – for the second time now. Sometimes it seems like the right book comes along at just the right time. This one and Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller have been gifts to my spirit. I mean, they are so real and honest that, like life, they alternately make me want to laugh or cry. And a lot of life seems to be like that – alternating between hysterical laughter and tears. Reading their stories I see God in their lives and I also recognize places where God is working in mine. So they give me hope and help me appreciate who I am in God’s eyes.
Today a patient and her husband dropped into our office. We just found out that the cancer she thought she had fought and won out over is back and is not expected to go away. We called them last week about an overdue account – which is not at all like them. He came in and, in tears, told us the news. We sent her flowers and today they came in together to say thanks.
It was an example of life’s tears and laughter which came today in almost the same breath. D has a great sense of humour. I hope it holds up since I think in some ways humour is like a healing balm from heaven – at least it helps the bystanders around cope and carry on with some sense of normalcy. One of her wishes, when her kids were done with their braces, was to get her own teeth straightened. “I guess I won’t be needing braces.” she said today as we exchanged a big hug.
My aunt came by our house tonight. She comes by frequently since we only live a few houses away from her apartment. She has this relationship with our dog Sam. Actually she would spoil Sam to death if we didn’t fairly strictly enforce the “no treats” rule. She used to bring along some scraps every time she came. And almost every evening or day after her visits Sam would have a little problem. Sam seems to have a delicate enough stomach to not tolerate treats. And the kids would end up having to clean up some little deposits in the basement. So we had to get strict about the no treats or I’m afraid it soon would have been no Sam.
Tonight Sam and my aunt went for one of their walks. Sam walks ahead pulling my 80+ year old aunt behind. And they love each other. I think Sam gets more excited about the walks than my aunt but it is a close one to call. I was worried about them managing OK on the street which is still a bit icy but they went and came back just fine.
Three strikes and you’re out. Isn’t that the way it is supposed to go? That is how it had gone by 1:40 this pm. And I was feeling like an ogre. I suggested that since the first three attempts to work had ended up pretty much as failures that I should go home. My office manager said I don’t think so!”
The first child was autistic. His aunt brought him because his mother “knew” he wouldn’t behave for her. He was not doing too badly but his patience with us only lasted about 15 minutes. I guess we’ll have to do him in the OR under GA. Just too much auditory and tactile stimulus associated with dental work. It just seems such a lot of risk to put a kid through for a simple one surface filling and a couple of sealants. I wish that I could get him in on a few more occasions and work with him till we could at least get his teeth cleaned in the office. And I wish his mom wasn’t so negative – she is fairly terrified herself and so sure that it will all be a horrible experience for him.
The next child was 11. He was just bad, but I suspect some other things may be going on in his mind. Or maybe very little is going on in there. His poor mother – she had to bring him in by herself since the kid’s dad did not show up to bring him. So, in comes mom with an infant, a couple of toddlers and this unruly 11 year old. She clearly has her hands full. So, expecting a lot of help from her is out of the question. The boy won’t even get in our chair. He actually only has a loose baby tooth but of course he won’t try to wiggle it out himself. In fact, I try to make some kind of eye contact with him to explain what he can do for himself and he turns away and walks off as I am speaking.
The third child is so little. He doesn’t want to be in my chair either but he is small enough to hold. So, lying him back, head in the crook of mom’s elbow, we check out the 19 month old child’s teeth. He’s not in as bad shape as some – only needs a couple small fillings and, if the fluoride varnish fails to arrest the decay in the front teeth, the top four teeth extracted. I’ll be seeing him again on a sedation morning, maybe in June since that is how far in advance we are booking these appointments. At least he is not in pain and his young mom is weaning him to a cup. For him there may be hope.
And now it seems to be getting better. The little girl now waiting to get numb, will have all of her work done after today’s appointment.
It was nice to get our and take a walk down our street along the river. There is still a lot of snow and walking was done with care as the ice still makes a thin layer over the pavement that looks deceptively like water. But it is smooth as glass and slippery as oil.
As I turned at the end of my walk and headed back home, the air over me resonated with the sounds of the returning geese. They don’t come back in the great flocks that they leave in, but rather in groups of nine or ten, sometimes only a lone pair. I don’t know where they were going tonight. Maybe there is a warm corner they are searching out. The river remains solid and still they come back to it.
This week has been one of those ordinary non-descript weeks – life pretty much going on as usual with no great events to speak of. Well, I guess there was the car accident. It all just seems a long time ago already.
It is interesting what the lack of a car does to the activity level around here. There has been a lot more staying close to home this week. That is not a bad thing, I don’t think.
And that reminds me that I have to go and renew my drivers license too since this, my birthday month, is almost over. Funny how it is easy to put this sort of little chore off till the last minute. That is typical of me – a very reliable procastinator.
Today was a day off for me. With my extra job overseeing the school dental program, I don’t get many days off where I have a whole day to do whatever I need to do. So today was nice. I actually slept in – something I don’t usually do. Snuggling up to my spouse knowing I don’t have to get up but he does is awesome! looking back on the day, one might say it was a waste of time but that was mostly what I needed to do today. And I did do some grocery shopping, went up to the hospital with some information for the couple with the cleft palate baby, had lunch with my hubby, did some reading and then coffee with Randall. Now, after I pick up my dancer, a movie and maybe a glass of wine should nicely round out my day.
Tomorrow I promise to be more productive – maybe.
Tonight we went over to friends to help celebrate a significant birthday. It was fun to get together with them. And there was another couple there too that we know fairly well since he is a physician and she is also a soccer mom – in fact the manager for Sara’s team. So we had a great time.
And B got some very interesting gifts as only a guy of a certain age will get ! And a snazzy tool box!! I will not say more since I would not want to offend those who might misunderstand Randall and Lauralea’s intentions 🙂
And since the other couple visiting at the time were of the medical persuasion, I was informed that I have a consult awaiting me tomorrow. I take care of making the first feeding plates for the cleft palate babies. So tomorrow I will go up to the nursery and take impressions. So much for my intentions to attend the Lenten luncheon during my noon break. I will probably be doing other things. Oh well!
And now, since I have been up for a long time, I am heading to bed.
This morning at Gatecrashers prayer I got to share Psalm 77 which I read and thought about in my devotional time yesterday. So I had carried this Psalm around with me on my pocket PC (I love this little tool) and had been thinking about it.
1I cry out to God without holding back.
Oh, that God would listen to me!
2 When I was in deep trouble,
I searched for the Lord.
All night long I pray, with hands lifted toward heaven, pleading.
There can be no joy for me until he acts.
3 I think of God, and I moan,
overwhelmed with longing for his help.
4 You don’t let me sleep.
I am too distressed even to pray!
5 I think of the good old days, long since ended,
6 When my nights were filled with joyful songs.
I search my soul and think about the difference now.
7 Has the Lord rejected me forever?
Will he never again show me favor?
8 Is his unfailing love gone forever?
Have his promises permanently failed?
9 Has God forgotten to be kind?
Has he slammed the door on his compassion?
Then Asaph, the Psalmist goes on to say:
10 And I said, “This is my fate,
that the blessings of the Most High have changed to hatred.”
11 I recall all you have done, O LORD;
I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
12 They are constantly in my thoughts.
I cannot stop thinking about them.
13 O God, your ways are holy.
Is there any god as mighty as you?
14 You are the God of miracles and wonders!
And so when I get down, I know that it is essential for me to remember to look back at all that God has done for me too, like Asaph does in this psalm. And to remember not to just consider what God has done for me but for his people throughout history. Sharing of stories of God’s intervention in our lives reminds us of the fact that God does not abandon us. And having friends that we can share stories with provides tangible evidence of that fact. Together we remind each other of the greatness and faithfulness of God.