Smiles of McGill Dentistry

February 2017

Nareg

 

Growing up in Lebanon, I was envious of this one guy that was 2 years older than me and who was good at everything. He was good in class, good at sports, popular with the girls, well-mannered and kind to everyone. He was also unbeaten at chess. A not-so-known-but-decent player myself, one day I challenged him to a game, and he accepted.

During the yearly interschool sports events, while everyone was outside cheering for their teams, we went to an empty classroom and started a game. I couldn’t believe he was giving invisible-me some of his time during such a high profile event. The game lasted two draining hours. Finally, I played the last move. After a brief pause, he said “Mother%#*&@!, you beat me!!” My ego swelled with pride; the ultimate bliss of the underdog: recognition of worth.

One week later, he died, shot in the face in an alley.

Sadly, to this day, my most vivid memory of him remains his last emotionally-charged words to me in that empty classroom and I feel ashamed that his life is reduced to this selfish memory in my mind. This experience marked me and is a lesson that has grounded me in my work as a dentist/teacher to this day. No matter the number of accolades, no matter the prestige of anything, life is too short and fragile to let our egos distract us from what matters most: the people we connect with.

– Dr. Nareg Apelian, Assistant Professor and Director of Continuing Dental Education in the Faculty of Dentistry

 

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