I have bad teeth. Always have. By the time I had all my adult teeth, most of them already had fillings.
It wasn’t a surprise that I needed two more root canals and crowns when I was only 20. The problem was I was poor.
Not charming poor, as in “let’s decorate with used furniture.” Hard poor like I needed to work at jobs where a meal was part of my shift.
The dentist told me it would be $1,000 to fix my teeth. An impossible number.
My brother heard about it. “I’ll pay for you,” he said. “You can pay me back over time.”
I fixed my teeth. When you make $6 an hour, it’s a long way to $1,000. Paying him back took years. After a while, he said I could work it off by helping around his house.
This week was his birthday. He’s been gone five years now since his suicide.
Stories that involve mental health issues and drug addiction are never pretty. They don’t end neatly like they do in the movies with miraculous recoveries where everyone is happy and inspired, stronger for having gone through it. These stories are told day by day, sometimes moment by moment, even five years after.
I’m not going to say he was easy to have as a brother or that I was a good sister.
But on his birthday as I went for a walk, I felt the crowns in my mouth with my tongue and thought, “He’s never far from me. His kindness lives on.”
This week, be generous to someone who needs it.
May God bless you.
May you be remembered for your kindness. May you be remembered.