Sunday, February 1, 2009

Dr. Suzanne Hamilton - In Memoriam

When I learned recently of the death of Dr. Suzanne Hamilton, my dentist and my client, I cried all night. My poor husband, who had to bear the news all day and give it to me at night, also had to bear my initial tantrum. I shouted at him, "Stop it! What do you mean? It makes no sense! What do you mean, she 'passed away'? A woman of 39 who has given birth only 12 weeks ago does not 'pass away!'" It was truly surreal. At one moment, I could separate myself from my body and watch it going through the initial shock, then the rage, then the disbelief. My mind said, "Oh look, I'm going through a stage of grief: denial."

I had only known her a few months, but she had apparently touched me deeply. I don't think I've cried so much in a long time, nor for anyone else. She had everything to live for - a husband she deeply loved, and who deeply loved her, a newborn daughter, a thriving and successful practice, and the admiration of a whole community. She was one of those "telepathic" dentists - what I mean by that is that she seemed to know exactly what I was thinking at each moment, but could not convey because in our normal interactions, my mouth was usually wide open and she was drilling in it. And yet, all I would have to do was "think" a question at her, and she would answer it as if she had heard me.

The last time I saw her, January 14, 2009, she was putting a crown on me. It seemed to take a bit longer than I expected, and I sent a thought at her, with my mouth wide open, left side of my face numb and drooling, "Why is this taking so long?" She said, without missing a beat, "Oh, I'm sorry it's taking a while - I had to take an extra mold of your tooth to make sure the lab can make your permanent crown perfectly."

She was also the most extraordinary dentist I have ever met, someone who was constantly seeking ways to improve her patients' experience. I know this firsthand, because she came to me for Aromatherapy advice. She wanted to know if I could make her a blend for her dental patients to "relax" or "calm" them. She understood that people visiting her office had anxiety about it, and she wanted to reassure them through every sense possible, including smell. And so she bought Lavender, Chamomile, and various other soporific essential oils, as well as a blend I put together for her office, and put it on diffusers throughout the place. She even put it on my bib that last time I saw her. That was Dr. Hamilton for you - loving, caring, nurturing, and always thinking of the needs of others.

All I can really liken her to is a flower - no, a rose, the queen of flowers. Like a rose, she was generous with her own special unique fragrance, and in her case, if I could bottle it into perfume, I would call it, "Compassion."

We attended her memorial service yesterday and listened to all the stories of how she lived her life, which only further served to confirm that a bright light has truly gone out of this world. She was beloved by many, if the standing-room-only crowd was any indication. I, too, loved her, though I only knew her a few months. I will miss her sorely, and I pray fervently that God offers comfort and solace to those she leaves behind and are most wounded by her passing.

7 comments:

Michelle said...

Such a nice post. I too am still in shock at her death. She has been my dentist for 7 yrs and really felt more like a friend. My heart just breaks for her family.

lanceroplis said...

Thank you. This is her brother Lance, and this was deeply moving. I appreciate this a ton.

Mare said...

Hi Lance, I was moved to tears by your speech at the memorial service. It was evident how much you and your family loved her, and it is heartbreaking that she was taken from the world so soon. I can't imagine the pain you all must still be going through. You have all been in my husband's and my prayers and you all will continue to be. Let me know if I can do anything for you or your family. Otherwise, I am happy to continue on as your prayer brigade.

lori said...

I am Suzanne's friend, Lori. My husband Tom and I were two of the people who shared at Suzanne's memorial. I was very touched by what you wrote here. I remember calling you for Suzanne, to request a special massage at home for her husband, Paul, after they had spent a long, hard week at the hospital for the delivery of their sweet baby, Zoe. Suzanne wanted to bless Paul for all the support he had been, but he didn't want to leave "his girls," so you agreed to come to their home. Thank you for that . . . and for this beautiful tribute. She was indeed extraordinary, and will never be more than a breath away.

cpayne said...

I just recently found out the news about Dr. Hamilton's passing away. I am in shock and deeply sadden by not being at her memorial, for she was quite the inspiration for me. I worked for her a while back and she mentoring me. I admire her dedication to her profession and passionate spirit. I was very happy for her and her baby girl, now I can only express my deepest condolences to her family. Her daugher had an exceptional woman as a mother!

Michelle said...

I have not seen Dr Hamilton since last summer. I cannot believe this news. My first dentist in the bay area was a woman who was a mentor and alum from Dr. Hamilton's dental school who worked around the corner until her untimely death from a plane crash and now Dr Hamilton is gone. I hope that time will heal your souls and that you cherish your special memories of Dr. Hamilton.

jspeed said...

I only just learned of my friend passing away and I am heartbroken. Though we weren't recently in touch, we were good friends in college and often studied together. We both became dentists and would cross paths from time to time. Life gets so busy, we had so many fun memories together, I only wish there could be more. Do you know at what cemetery she is laid to rest? I really want to go by. My heart goes out to her husband, baby girl and all her family and friends.