A cold, gray day perfect for going to the dentist. And it was a Monday. I met Alice for tea and sympathy afterwards and she listened to my woes before telling me her own dentist story. It was both odd and moving. The week before she had to have a crown removed, kind of chipped away. The dentist asked if she wanted the bit of gold that was left, made a joke about selling it and was surprised when, in fact, she held out her hand. She hadn't given the incident much thought but in the telling of it she began to cry. It was obvious she was experiencing a deep emotion. When her feelings subsided, she didn't want to talk about them beyond saying she hadn't thought about her dad for a long time. But that afternoon when she took the gold it was because her father had been a dentist and it was he who, many years ago, had inserted it. Her father had not been a particularly warm parent and she had had issues with him. So why, she asked, after forty years was this well spring of love so strong and clear?
I chose three o'clock in the morning to wonder. I knew about that surge of love, out of the blue and more than the sum of experiences shared; as if all the love you ever felt for a person was swept up into a bundle of pure, almost hurtful joy. Because surface events fade it's easy to think that love does also. But love seems to abide at a deeper level of our being and unexpectedly, and sometimes uncomfortably, makes itself known.
And here's another dentist story. At the hair salon the next day, Maria told me her father had just given her a small jar that he had been saving for her. Within were all her baby teeth. She was pleased and horrified. She thought about making a bracelet. Love. It's a beautiful thing.