Last year, when we took Big L to the dentist, the ones that saw all of my kids at the time, we got a very reluctant donated exam and an large estimated cost for how much it would be to get her four fillings.
This year, I took Gus to a different pediatric dentist to check them out and worked up the nerve to ask them to donate an appointment to N. Without any hesitation, they agreed. And last week, we had that appointment. Her teeth are a huge mess. She will need a few pulled, and crowns on several others. The dentist explained the plan and the receptionist was ready to book us for the first appointment to get the work done. I asked “how much will this all cost?” The receptionist and the dentist exchanged a knowing look and the dentist firmly said, “This is pro bono. We just want to give her the best future possible.”
That’s part of a Facebook post from my personal page I wrote last week after our first appointment. The dentist and her team squeezed us into their packed schedule, giving up their lunch hour to make sure that N returns with her teeth cleaned up.
Today was the first “surgery” appointment, where she had a tooth pulled and a root canal. My sweet friend watched R, L & G, so I was able to sit in with N and hold her hand for the whole procedure. It went well. N was great and I was in awe of the compassion that they showed N. She has a team of talented people going above and beyond for her… because they care about HER and HER future.
As we were leaving, the dentist said to me, “thank you for helping her.” Me?!? YOU’RE THANKING ME?!
A lesser person would have handed me that estimate for all of her dental work last week and sent us on our way. Or, perhaps, they may have agreed begrundingly to help N, seeing the state of her teeth. Instead, this wonderful dentist promised to do her very best work by N… and thanked me for bringing her in.
That’s what love looks like. As Glennon Melton says, “we belong to each other”. And when we live like we mean it? When we use our talents selflessly to help those in need? N’s smile will be healed, but there’s some healing of her heart too. She is seeing that yes, there are people on her side. Yes, people care about it.
Now, she’s just a young kid… and you might be wondering if that message really sinks in with her. I might not have taken the time to share this, except for a conversation I had with N later in the day.
N was in obvious pain from her teeth and the dentist had instructed me to give her soft foods to eat. Well, food is a bit of a challenge, as I’m still learning what N likes. Together, N and I sat down in front of Pinterest and looked up soft foods. I took copious notes. Yes to mashed potatoes. No to mac and cheese. Yes to pudding. No to borscht. Fun fact: one of her requests was spaghetti with ketchup and… mayo!
N asked for my phone and I expected another food request that I wouldn’t quite understand. But, when she handed the phone back, her message had been translated simply…
“You will take care of me?”
I’m sure shock registered across my face. Of course, I thought. That’s what moms do. Except that her mom may have never been able to offer that to her.
“Yes! Да! Так!” I said.
And she threw her arms around me and kissed my face countless times.
That IS what we moms do. Stay by their side, hold their hand through the hard moments, remember the Tylenol every 4 hours and make an extra trip to the store for those comfort foods. But, to N, each meal prepared with her in mind, each squeeze of her hand in the dentist’s chair, each goodnight kiss, that’s a bandaid on her heart. It means I see her. I care about her needs. She has worth.
That’s the seed I want to plant for her this summer… you have worth.
P.S. Please pray for N, as we go back more dental work tomorrow. And, twice in August.
P.P.S. I’d love more soft food suggestions, especially from my Eastern European readers. :)