So I just came back from my dentist. After 6 visits over the past two months and a lot of prep work, my permanent bridge was finally ready to be installed. Although, like many of us, I don’t have insurance and didn’t have the money to pay for it, a dear client gave me a generous Christmas check which helped cover it.
As I was getting up out of the dental chair, feeling grateful that I would soon be able to chew hard food again, I casually asked my dentist how her twenty-something year-old son was. I had not seen him around the office lately, but I used to see him quite often last year when I would come in, sitting at the computer playing video games. We would chat and he would tell me which games he liked to play as well as his passion for bike riding. A very friendly and outgoing young man.
Well suddenly, the energy in the room shifted and my dentist’s eyes began to tear up, and she said, her voice choking-up, “He passed away in a biking accident…. why did God take him!?” And overcome with emotion, she went into her office and closed the door behind her, leaving me and her assistant standing there in silence. The assistant also had tears in her eyes, as did I.
During a moment like this, all words fall far, far short. My dentist had transformed into a grieving mother right before my eyes, and there were no words to console her broken heart. Her assistant told me she doesn’t really talk about it to patients, but in this moment, my innocently asking how he was, two days before Christmas, was too much for her to keep it all inside. And so out poured a mother’s profound sadness and grief for the loss of her only son.
She didn’t come out of the office, and so the assistant and I exchanged a few words of compassion, and then I hugged her good-bye and left. I was deeply touched by what I had just unexpectedly witnessed. I drove home in the LA rain in silence. I had gone in to have work done on my teeth, but it was my heart that was transformed.
Michael Jeffreys 12/23/16