Making Time and Funerals
Dr Kate Brouwer (Dental Ministries Manager)
This week I got a text message from a friend telling me that one of my classmates from dental school had died. He was the first in our class to pass and it was quite jarring. I had lost touch with him and, while I’d heard a few years ago that he had serious health problems, I hadn’t bothered to reach out. He wasn’t part of my little clique and I guess I thought I was too busy.
When I was going through dental school, I considered my class to be a good one, I made friends that had a meaningful and positive impact on my life. And let’s face it, with all the challenges of dental school, we acted pretty authentic once the pressure started to squeeze us a little, so these were tried and tested friendships. We weren’t always at our best, but we shared mutual struggles and laughs and that united us.
I don’t think it occurred to me as a dental student to ask, “who can I help today?”. I had a job to do, giving my best in this program, and I took it very seriously. As might be typical, I gravitated towards the people I had the most in common with. As I look back on those years, I realize a few things. First, I am so thankful for my classmates and the way we often benefitted from one another’s strengths and compensated for each other’s weaknesses. If I were to do it over again, I would still take the learning seriously, but myself less so. I’d take more time to listen to the people outside my own clique. I would work harder to see the best in people and be more vulnerable about my own struggles, instead of striving to impress and compete. And while there’s no use dwelling on lost opportunities, there is the real chance to take that sort of thinking forward.
I wish I had reached out with a few kind words to my classmate back when his disease was first diagnosed. I could have sent a note or called him up to ask how he was doing. I was busy and I probably thought it would feel awkward. But tomorrow I will make time for his funeral, proving that we can do more with our time than we think. And likely there will be awkward conversation there. But surely one thing I’ve learned by now is that life is full of awkward moments and that’s ok. Oh the good I have missed because I didn’t want to feel uncomfortable. Jesus calls us to be salt and light in this world. Help me, God, not get too busy or fearful of discomfort to be that salt and that light. Amen.