pushing a pea

February 19, 2023

The call comes from the clinical side to where I sit, a stack of bills next to my computer. A simple summons: “Blood work.” 

“Coming,” I say as I’m rising from the chair. I put down the papers and gather my supplies. Looking at the order I gulp. This is no routine draw, but a five year old with elaborate tests being run. 

I can’t do this.

Lord, help me do this.

Tucking her into her daddy’s arms, and asking him to hold a phone for her to watch, I feel for the vein. It feels good. Looking up to see that she is still distracted, I slide the needle in. Nothing.


Pushing a pea around on a plate, my memory reminds me as I think fast to all I have learned . I envision the vein rolling and gently pull back, angling back up. There. I feel the slight puncture, and the flow begins. I let out the breath I was holding. 

Lord, let it keep flowing.

As I’m popping in the second tube, the doctor walks in the door.

“Can you add a purple top?,” she says. “I decided to add a test.”

“Sure,” I say

I hope so! I think

And then, a few minutes later, it is done. I’m wrapping the little arm in a pink bandage, and sending her out with a smile and a “See you next time!” I’m still sweating, but breathing easily once more. I am spent, and I am filled with gratitude for this moment in time.

Never, in my wildest imaginings-even when I was preparing to launch into this new medical career-could I have envisioned myself here: not only doing venipuncture but, bizarrely, loving it. Of course, it is not the act itself that makes me feel alive; I mean, really, sticking needles into arms??? But the focus that this work requires, and the taking-every-ounce-out-of-me, and the joy of easing the fear when I manage to do the job well…it leaves me with a deep sense that this is what I am meant to do. Not in some ultimate calling sort of way, but simply that, here, in this season of my life, I have stumbled into a place that I couldn’t have created for myself, but that I see is very, very good.

Hold onto this awareness, I tell myself.

On the days when it is not going smoothly, when I’m not feeling up to the task, when I feel like I’ve messed up…remember this truth:

This is my place. 

This is my life. 

This is good


February 10, 2023

I had just started unloading the car when I saw the text, “Call when you are ready.” Delivered two minutes ago. Peter had walked out to meet me, and started pointing out the comet. With my eyes following his pointing finger upward, I held the phone to my ear. She picked up immediately, and I could tell she was moving. Birds chirped in the background and she told me that yes, she was out for her morning walk. 

When she had texted about scheduling a call, a week ago, I realized it had already been a year. The last time we spoke, we had been batting back and forth edits to a series of visa application letters. She asked for my editing help, and I had wracked my brain to try to think of the most convincing arguments i imagined might sway the G embassy. They did not. I had been so certain that this was what she was destined for-with her broad mind, traveling experience, and language skill, she would, of course, fall in love with someone from another part of the world. She, who had been raised in a small village, would go far. When the doors all seemed to close, I tried to talk myself out of the disappointment. Who am I to imagine what is best for her? Surely there is something, someone else …?

A decade ago, we had been the three musketeers. When I arrived in the South east, the two of them were already fast friends. But, somehow-I can’t even recall how we found each other amidst the large group of staff there at our 300-student school. But we did. They welcomed me into their circle and, for the next three and a half years of my life there, we walked (and ran, and biked, and swam) it together. She was there when I began to talk about this quirky water project engineer I had begun learning Ju Jitsu from. She rejoiced with me when we joined together, and she listened, and counseled, when I talked about that transition to married life. Then, around the same time Peter and I moved to Ghana, she, beyond all my imaginings, raised support and set out on a vessel that sailed the world…placed, miraculously, on the same vessel that the third corner of our triangle had also been placed on. We parted ways, two of them still together. 

A year later, settled in Ghana, I got an email from her. My jaw dropped, and I grabbed Peter’s arm, “M and V are coming…HERE!” Their vessel would dock, for a month, here in our city. They requested leave to come stay with me and, for a long weekend, we were once again the three musketeers. I still shake my head in awe at the marvelous serendipity of that reunion.

So last night, catching up on the phone, I couldn’t help but revisit my niggling dream of managing to reunite once more in yet another corner of the globe …

She asked about my work. I started to try to tell her about how much the skill of venipuncture means in my current work life, but I kept interrupting myself with the clarification that I didn’t know why it was such a big deal to me. She stopped me and, with the wisdom that has so often astounded me before, pointed out that it really didn’t matter why: if I loved it, then I should just focus on it without worrying about why I love it. I laughed at the truth I’d been blind to and told her, “Yes, of course, you are right.”

After a bit of light chitchat, she moved into a sort of storytelling mode. I leaned into the words, riveted and eager to hear where her life had taken her. And then I was laughing out loud, interrupting her with rapid fire questions. It was, as it was years ago, beyond my imaginings:

They had found a way. The two had met in a neutral country, and had sealed the intent of their relationship. He had asked her father’s permission. And now the paperwork is underway. The doors are opening. It may take up to three months now but the process is moving steadily. She is preparing for the move, at peace, and ready. 



*About the photo: I was visiting my great aunt a couple weeks ago and paused outside her door to learn a bit about my cousin’s woodworking project. I took this shot thinking, as I did, that it was surely an odd thing to photograph…but I found the cedar truly beautiful so I did it anyway. V is someone who sees the truly beautiful in this world. I know she would have wanted to take the very same photo