Saturday, October 25, 2008
We are working on our 6th patient of the morning. The heat is unbearable. I am drenched with sweat. Scarlett’s duct-taped loops keep falling from her eyes and onto the patient’s paper towel bib. We work hurriedly and efficiently, not from lack of care, but because she knows the line is long and each patient most likely will have such significant amounts of decay that we will be re-constructing entire teeth, not patching up pin holes. I hold the battery-weakened curing light to the occlusal surface. We have 30 seconds to breathe and my gaze lands on her supplies, marveling at what she is able to accomplish with a literal tackle box of such few materials. I hand her the last of 3 plastic strips. We have already cut them in half. We can’t conserve anymore. She clears her throat. This means she is going to say something to me. “Yesica. Where are you? Tell me where you are. What you thinking?”
Scarlett is this way, one of those people able to see you when she looks at you. The first morning I worked with her I found it to be somewhat disconcerting…but throughout the week her discernment has become a rare form of comfort. I hand her the composite material. I have stopped asking what shade she needs because it does not matter here.
“I am thinking…how do you do all this…with… with so little…? And how do you not get tired?” Now the plastic instrument. We only have one. “Welllll…Yesika...I guesses I am just amazing, what can I say?” Her eyes laugh at me over her mask. Curing light again, equilibration, another minute of instructions, the patient spits into a wastebasket, and we say goodbye.
Scarlett rips off her gloves and looks at her watch. “One more.” As I begin to wipe down the chair for the second “one more” of the morning, she reaches over and touches my hand. I stop.
“Yesica. Listen to me. God blesses all in different ways. But He choose to bless you with opportunity. Opportunity we do not have here. I thank God for my life, for what I do, but there is more, there is much I desire, but not all will be. And I am tired. Very tired. But pressing on, always pressing on, yes?”
“Si. Yes, Scarlett”
“Cheque. Good. “Cool.”
She smiles and Marcus hands her his dental form. I stand to get the necessary anesthetics. This is the last vile of Lidocaine we have for our morning supply. As Scarlett prepares the patient and administers the first injection, she closes her eyes and sighs deeply. Now she is the one who is somewhere else, and I watch her quietly as she goes-watch her strong beautiful face, her strong beautiful faith, unwavering, in spite of all her broken dreams.
Posted by Jekisa Jean at 11:53 AM