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A Trip Through the Universe

BY SANDRA L. LERNER

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I would like to tell you about the first time I had a visit from my Guardian Angel. It was something extraordinary that made a lasting impression on me for the rest of my life. But before I can tell you about that, I need to give you some background information so that you will understand what was happening and what brought on this angelic visit.

I was twenty-two years old, living in San Francisco, having moved up there from Los Angeles only a few months before. I did not have any family in San Francisco, although in a short time I did make some friends and started dating. The reason I moved up to San Francisco was mostly because I was somewhat emotionally unstable, and just had this `urge' to get away. Too often, when I was young, I used to let my "urges" lead me around by the nose.

A short time before, my sister, a friend, and I had visited up there from Los Angeles for a few days and fell in love with the city. My friend, who was from Montreal, Quebec, and I had decided to move there. She never did, but I packed up and made the big move. In no time, I found a job as a legal secretary, and later, with two young women I befriended, rented an apartment.

A MOUTH FULL OF TROUBLES

Not long afterward, I ran into trouble with my teeth. I had a mouthful of cavities, a number of which needed root canal work. More than one dentist told me of the many problems going on with my teeth and how costly it was going to be to fix them. At one point, an eye tooth in my upper jaw became badly infected, so badly infected that it caused the whole side of my face to swell up. I couldn't chew anything, was in a lot of pain, and lost time from work. I recall that the dentist said he could not work on the tooth until the pus had drained, so I had to wait for a few very uncomfortable days before going back to see him.

When finally I was back in the dentist chair, it was decided that it would be simply cheaper to pull out all the molars in my upper jaw since I did not have the funds to pay for the expensive root canals and caps needed. I was devastated. I hated the thought of losing all those teeth. Also, some teeth from the lower jaw were to be pulled, too, but not nearly as many as in the upper jaw.

I called my parents back in Chicago and told them I needed $500 as a down payment before the dentist would start working. The $500 was based on the number of teeth being pulled, some root canal work that still had to be done in the lower jaw, and a partial bridge for the upper jaw. It was the least expensive way of proceeding, and still too expensive for a young secretary with meager financial resources.

HOPELESSNESS AND FEAR

This was back in the 1960s, when $500 was probably equivalent to today's $6,000 or $7,000 in purchasing power. My parents, who were not very well off, did not have the $500 to give me. I fell into quite a depressed state. I was depressed over losing so many teeth and over not having the necessary down payment. I did not know where to turn. By the way, all the molars in the upper jaw had already been pulled out by now, and I had developed a complex about how I looked when I spoke or laughed. I used to put my hand over my mouth so no one would see that I had so many missing teeth.

At that time, I was working for a small law firm. The other secretary there, who was much older than me and who had worked at the firm for many years, was not very friendly. The attorneys struck me as cold and indifferent. I was low secretary on the totem pole. On Fridays, they would all leave early for the weekend, about two or three in the afternoon, and I was left all alone to answer the phones, finish my work, and lock up the offices for the weekend at five o'clock.

On this particular Friday, they all left, as usual, and I was working at my desk. The office was quiet, and because I was so depressed over my dental situation, I started crying, body-shaking kind of cries, with tears flowing like a river. I felt overwhelmed by hopelessness and fear. All my anxieties and worries came gushing out along with all those tears.

Next page: Shot into the Universe

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