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Showing posts from 2023

Words that Last for Good

It’s humbling to consider which of the many words we speak to acquaintances will be remembered decades later. Like the room mom who told eight-year-old me I was a complainer on a field trip (I was and I am, God forgive me). Or the pastor’s wife who informed me that my problem is I didn’t know how to share (I’m not sure exactly what she meant, but I’ve been pondering it for twenty years).  Or the women in Latin America who pleaded with us (American teenagers) to take their babies back to the U.S. Often the words we remember are heart-wrenching or critical, but sometimes they are beautiful and inspirational. Like the grandma who said through a translator that kids whose fathers hold them a lot have better dispositions (no official study to cite, but I think she’s right). Or the new friend who described time with our family as “life-giving”. Or the border officer who smiled as he said, “Welcome home” when our swollen feet finally planted on American ground after forty hours of travel.   I

Making Peace with War (and Cribbage)

I  don’t like games. There. I said it. Board games. Card games. Video games. I find them tedious and fractionating. Moreover, they tend to keep conversation from going below the surface. I do enjoy athletic games as exercise and demonstrations of incredible human capacity. And lawn games are a happy compromise between a nature walk and a real sporting event. But in general, when given the choice between doing dishes and keeping score among friends: I would choose the dishes. With an audio book or witty companion, ideally.     In college and medical school, I often organized game nights because it’s what people who didn’t want to go out to bars or clubs did. It’s what “my people” (nerds) did. I made sure we addressed at least a couple of important issues between turns and had plenty of good food for those of us who showed up for company rather than competition. My dislike for mock combat has only deepened with each child; motherhood has turned my brain into a minefield of queries and co

Questions We Don’t Like to Ask

When we lived in West Africa, a friend's pregnant relative bled to death in another city on the steps of a hospital that wouldn't treat her because she didn't have cash in hand. I remember feeling appalled and furious as she recounted the situation. Mission hospitals as a general rule will treat anyone, though sometimes national administrators determine the best way to stay in operation is to require the patient or a relative remain on site until the bill is paid. But in much of the world, those who cannot pay do not receive life-sustaining medical care and die either outside the hospital's doors or even in a hospital bed.  It is easier to post about what brings people together: topics like food, nature, education, or children. Because honestly, who could be against these things? But sometimes the harder issues churn in our hearts, begging to be spoken. Matters of injustice, inequity, and corruption. Nearly daily I find myself sorting through medical situations friends