Although I graduated from a Christian college that demanded careful attention to academics, my friends and I never let studying get in the way of a good time. During junior year we put together a country fair with baked goods, crafts and contests. When asked if I would set up a contest booth, I told them the only skill I had was blowing giant bubbles with bubble gum.
Apparently that was good enough. During the fair I sat in my station on a stool with a bowl of Bazooka gum next to me, selling chances to bubble-blowing challengers. Jocks, geeks, good students, flunkies, faculty members and even the dean of women all squared off with me, but at the end of the fair, I remained triumphant. My bubble was always bigger.
I still love bubble gum. My girls bought me a giant bucket of Double Bubble for my birthday, and I quickly divided the pieces into baggies so I’d have some in my beach bag, in the car, in my dresser and in the kitchen cabinet.
Over the weekend, however, my penchant for gum got the best of me. A dental crown and bridge, glued into my mouth in 1974, broke lose while I was chewing. Today I finally got myself glued back together.
But before the dentist could fill my mouth with a cotton roll, the saliva sucker, a mirror and a glue gun, I explained that in the last five days since the bridge came off, slowly that side of my mouth began to ache, then my jaw began to throb, and finally the whole side of my face hurt. Looking for sympathy I said, “Stabbing cheek pains woke me three times last night!”
“Facial muscles,” he said. “The tooth at the back, standing alone, has lost its support. Because of the other tooth’s absence, the whole dynamic of the line-up has changed.”
I was glad he began working in my mouth right then, because I could close my eyes and think… about Nate.
My lone tooth-left-standing did keep standing. It did its best to chew as always, but apparently the surrounding muscles had to pick up the slack. In time, they began to hurt. When a spouse dies, a wife remains standing under the new burden of widowhood, muscling through the necessary adjustments. She’s well aware that the line-up has dramatically changed. In time, though, the initial ache begins to hurt badly. Eventually it becomes sharp pain.
Today, with a little cement, the dentist reestablished my original tooth line-up, and although my jaw still hurts, he promised me time would make it feel better.
God is in the process of establishing a new line-up for me, too. It’s far more complicated than re-cementing a bridge, because Nate won’t be returning to the line-up. Nevertheless, somehow, some way, the Lord will close the gap he left, and I know with time, I’ll feel better.
For now, though, the dentist told me there is one thing I can do. “Lay off the gum for a while.”
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)