“And where are you?” Maga said, sounding like she had a wad of cotton in her mouth.

“I literally just walked in the front door to my apartment. I’m home now. Is everything okay with you?”

“No. I’m in terrible pain. My mouth. I had a toothache. They took my tooth out this afternoon. I’m in terrible pain and no one knows what to do to fix it.”

“Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry to hear this. I can call back tomorrow.”

“No. No. I like talking to you.”

“Oh, but Maga. If you’re in pain, we can talk at another time.”

“No, no. Now is fine.”

Not entirely sure this was a wise course of questioning, but hoping to distract her from her pain, I went for it. “Have you talked to Uncle D lately?” (He’s the 3rd of Maga’s 4 kids, and he lives in Katy, TX, which is about 20 miles from Houston.)

“I have. Can you believe what’s happening over there?” Her voice was now clear and apparently sans cotton swab shoved in there.

“I was following along through updates from my mom, but I found I had Uncle D’s number and I checked in with them today. It was nice to be able to reach out directly.”

“I imagine so. It’s so wild what’s going on down there.”

“Terrible. I’m so glad they’re okay.”

“Me too.” Maga’s voice took on a more dreary tone.

“Are you in pain again? I can call back tomorrow when you’re feeling better.”

“No, no. I could use a cheery voice right now.”

I’d actually needed the same thing earlier tonight, and had received it from one friend far and one friend near, and so, I was more than willing to pass on that cheeriness to someone suffering from both tooth and heart pains brought on by recent events.

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