“As I sit down to pen some of my thoughts and feelings, I am reminded of a constant for me—My family. A big part is you—my patient family. A part of my home away from the homeland I grew up in. Just a minute ago, I was just stepping into the shoes of my father’s life-defining career as a dentist. Now, in a blink of an eye—that we call time, it’s been 25 years of me celebrating being a dentist. Your dentist. Decades have come and gone. Timelines defined not just by graduations, illnesses, retirements, weddings, divorces, births, and deaths, but also pre- and post-pandemic. Not to forget pre- and post-dental and airway issues!
With Thanksgiving in the air, I reminisce that young budding dentist, who was also a young mom. I met a lot of you 15 years ago. Some, I met yesterday as an older and more gray-haired dentist. So many of you—I have had the pleasure of calling my life classmates, as you and I have navigated life, its challenges, and nuances along with the laughs, joys, and celebrations. A warm hug, a silent tear at your visit, a letter exchanged, a thoughtful email and card—it has always stayed with me. My heart is proudly brimming full, as I embrace the gratitude that you chose me as your partner in your wellness journey.
As we step into another “Thanksgiving,” I am reminded of all that I am grateful to you for trusting me with caring for your health, for supporting me in learning the uniqueness of the human body and its healing capacity, for cheering me on as I constantly tread learning and applying new knowledge, for appreciating the mind-body-soul level of care that I am intensely committed to giving you, and lastly—but not the least—for always caring about how I’m doing. When you ask me how my kids are, I stop, take a breath, and smile under my mask. In that brief but deeply transcendent moment, I know that as much as I care about you, I am blessed to be loved by you. That simple question of asking me how I am doing is an invitation by you to help me slow down and sift from “doing” the dentistry to “being” the human. Soul to soul. Human to human.
Happy Thanksgiving to my patient family. As you navigate this long weekend with family, friends, or by yourself, know that you are loved and cared for by so many, including us here at my office. Know and appreciate the journey of you as a dental patient. Acknowledge your role in helping us healers understand how to heal better, how to heal faster, and how to heal gently.
—Dr. Ratti Handa