a piece

April 29, 2022

Sometimes there are so many needs and so many demands that it starts to feel overwhelming. In this new role I’ve been getting used to, as a healthcare worker, I’ve often felt hesitant and unsure…at times, even, incompetent. Today I was feeling the weight of a week of long days and great needs. A homeless patient with an infant. A 5 year old with cancer.
So much pain.

So many needs.

And I, in my newbie role, know too little to be able to help in ways I wish I could.

As we are moving the clinic this week, our practice is trying to carry on while equipment is carted out and chaos is mounting. Some of the supply cabinets have already been moved out of the exam rooms, so for a few visits the doctor I was scribing for would stop in the middle of an exam to go grab an ear piece for the otoscope. Before going into the next patient visit I stuck a few of the pieces into my pocket. Sure enough, a few minutes later she paused, about to leave for the earpiece. I reached into my pocket and handed her a pair. She laughed out loud and, for a moment, it felt like, maybe, somehow, it would all be ok … in the midst of all the pain.

There seems so little I can do. But, at the end of the day, I can at least be the “ear piece holder extraordinaire” for one hard-working and great-hearted practitioner. And today, that is enough.

loaves and fishes

April 24, 2022

An email from an old friend brought a happy dose of fond memories and happy smiles today, thinking of the walks and talks we used to enjoy. She spoke of blooming flowers and simple meals. Then she mentioned the hand and wrist pain she was experiencing, that was threatening her work as a florist. I recalled the months I spent recently, unable to run and limping when I walked, and I ached for this kind friend who spent decades teaching art in a remote Zambian village, before returning to her homeland in Ontario. This is what I wrote to her, amongst other farming and flowery chitchat …

A funny thing happened this afternoon as I was picking up groceries. I was looking for coffee and saw a kind we really liked that was listed as on sale for a great deal (Bustelo, if you want a coffee rec 😂). The nearest department was the meat section so I went over to ask the gentleman, who had his back to me, if I could get help. He came over and, when he did, I noticed that he was in the middle of making sushi. Looking at the display of packaged sushi then, I couldn’t help but gaze longingly, wishing I could feel justified in such a splurge. I asked him a bit about his work and then he asked me what my favorite kind of sushi was. When I told him that anything with either raw or smoked salmon was my preference, he picked up one of the packages and said, “Just a minute…” Several moments later the small man returned. He handed me a bag, said “The receipt is in there.” Winking a bit, he added “Enjoy.”

I was so dumbfounded I really couldn’t properly thank him. Dinner tonight was a series of quietly thankful bites. It’s been probably a good 5 years since I had something similar-most recently probably the Korean version when we attended a Korean Church in Ghana. 

Kindness. Sometimes I forget how long it’s been since I experienced pure kindness from a stranger. But when it happens, it reminds me that the goodness is bravely and courageously waging war with the so-prevalent and threatening evil.

*photo is of our recent Easter weekend spread, joined by a friend for a simple biscuits and ham dinner. No complaints here about our usual farm fare 😂)


April 16, 2022

Good Friday. It almost slipped right by me this year. I started out the morning in a rush of work-panic, going over the past few days’ clinic documents. The nurse I had worked with Wednesday noticed a confusion on the schedule and, for a harrying few minutes, I was terrified that I’d made a mistake, messing up my Spanish speaking , and giving vaccines to a child who wasn’t supposed to get them. I’d already been on edge about the weighty role I’d recently stepped into, and the prospect of error was truly terrifying, with little ones in my care. As it turned out, I’d done everything correctly. Perhaps in part due to the heightened level of awareness that this healthy stress creates? But the moments of panic were there nonetheless, so that by the end of the workday I realized I was still trembling slightly, if I slowed down enough to allow it … this, then, is Good Friday. Fitting, perhaps? I selfishly dwell today on the reality that I have been the cause of temper tantrums in 4 year olds and panicky screams in 1 year olds. I don’t blame them in the slightest, as I blubber out “Lo siento”s while plunging needles into little limbs. No wonder that other nurses I work with have spoken of Walmart sightings of patients, provoking screaming children at a glimpse of their needle-bearing devil incarnate.

And then, in order to fulfill what was written, He said “I am thirsty,”

A jar of sour wine was there, and so they dipped a sponge into it and lifted it to His lips.

Breathing His last, he uttered the words “Eloi, eloi, lama sabbachthani “ … 

“Into thy hands I commit my spirit”

Praise be for a God who gets it. A God who has felt the piercing pain of life’s ills. And who has compassion on those of us feelings it’s pain day in and day out.


your smile

April 5, 2022

For 5 days shy of 7 months now, a part of me has been weighted down by the fear of pending bills. And for much of that time, my fear has turned out to be well-founded, with all manner of specialists and surgeons and departments offering us their requests for our donations (I jest). It has been, to put it mildly, a trial. 

One night, at a dinner gathering with friends, several months ago now, a friend, familiar with the peculiar trial of fielding medical trauma while uninsured, asked me how much I was working. When I told her that I was only part-time then, she noted that it was a good thing . . .

And yes, countless hours have been spent writing letters, filling out forms, sending documents, and making phone calls (or, more precisely, rocking out to the “on hold” tunes that I have, not to toot my horn, become quite adept at.

Today it ended. 

The last bill has been paid. We are, as far as I can tell, debt free.

Oddly, once the shock wore off and the reality of it set in, the first emotion to squeeze its way into my newly spacious soul was an achey longing. A longing for my GramBea. I wanted to tell her the good news. I knew she would understand. She got it. She got me.

I suspect that there is more of this to come. More ache. More longing. 


I miss you GramBea. You know that. You used to tell me I could “do anything.” Life has hammered quite the opposite into my fearful heart over the past few years. But tonight I think that maybe, just maybe, you spoke some truth into being. I see your smile.