Two cavities in a six-year-old represent dental nightmares. Drilling, digging around, filling.
And the numbing.
Isley’s encounter with Dr. Mike went better than expected because he’s very good at deadening the pain.
And he has a treasure chest that the kids get to choose a prize from when they’re done.
What Isley wasn’t ready for was walking out of the office with frozen lips.
A grinner from the get-go, it was funny to see her smile only reach half her mouth.
When asked if it hurt, she rolled her eyes at me. “He froze my lips, Nana. I didn’t feel anything.”
How wonderful it would be if we could freeze those parts of us that were hurting. Aching joints. Sore back. Complaining knees.
A broken heart.
If we could freeze the pain, even temporarily, wouldn’t it be a reprieve?
Bitter truth. Removing pain makes us less of who we are.
August 4th would have been his 21st birthday. B was a remarkable young man who impacted everyone he met with his contagious smile and tender heart. He was one of those guys that made fun happen just by showing up.
When he died suddenly a little over a year ago, the pain hit his family and everyone who knew him with tremendous force. Time has softened the shock, but the pain is still there. Especially for those who loved him well.
Family pictures are different. They lack his smiling countenance. He’s remembered by his absence. There’s a hole where he would have stood. The space he would have filled with color and vibrancy.
B will never be gone from the family. He’s not physically standing there, but his influence is felt in the way the family stands close together. In the way they lean into one another.
Like a cavity that leaves a hole in the tooth unnaturally, his empty space hurts. Unlike a cavity, the space can’t be filled artificially.
There’s no real novocaine for loss.
Of course there are things we do to try and alleviate the pain. For a time. It’s one reason why people end up with addictions. Self-medication to escape pain isn’t sustainable.
I’ve watched B’s family as they’ve walked through, worked at, butted heads with grief. I’ve loved how they talk about him, smiling at memories that can’t help but make a parent grin or a sibling laugh out loud. They’ve not subtly removed him from daily life. They’ve celebrated who he was and the things he did.
They’ve remembered him well.
That’s what deep, abiding love does. It holds close even that which can’t be seen. It honors what was and is good.
Jesus created us to value one another. To love and be loved.
He’s the example and power to love through pain.
When our loved ones are gone, through death or separation, pain is our reminder that we’ve been blessed by a relationship that mattered. That changed us. That made us better.
I don’t want to be dead to pain. The hurt reflects the reality of my love for others. Love layers compassion throughout the pain to make me a richer person.
Happy Birthday, B. I’m sure the cake in heaven is awesome.
And it won’t give you cavities.
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