Dentist Day

I had this whole post started about my 2am turmoils and what it is like for me to get through the night. I was going to tell you all about hearing a male voice during the night that didn’t belong to anyone in my house. I was going to go on to share a dream I had shortly after Nolan passed where I think I experienced his Death. About 300 words in, my Mother stopped by to visit. I, of course, took that opportunity to escape what I was doing. That’s another thing I was going to tell you about – how I am the World’s Best Avoider of Difficult Emotions. I was going to tell you all about Busy Days and Breakdowns. Then something else happened.

This afternoon was our Dentist Day. Every six months, my family overtakes the Dentist’s office for the afternoon. It used to be all 5 of us, but then M got old enough to go on her own. We were down to 4. With us, we brought a playful spirit to that office. It really was fun. Little N played with all the toys, I chatted with the staff, Nolan questioned everything, and DH was just Darling. We took up their whole block of appointments for that time frame. Twice a year for the last 8 years, this was our routine. My boys love (loved?) getting their teeth cleaned. Nolan used to say he would have them cleaned every day if he could. This from the baby I had to sit on for the first 3 years of his dental visits. Didn’t see that coming!

When the appointment reminder showed up in my calendar this week, I just closed it out and didn’t look again. I felt a little lump. I’m good at avoiding (did I say that already?), and just pretended it wasn’t happening. I mean really, it’s the Dentist. It’s not a holiday or an anniversary. It shouldn’t be a big deal, right? Well it was.

I had a minor breakdown before we left and quickly took an anxiety pill. I know I put my Disclaimer out there, but sometimes I just don’t want to cry! The pills help, but I still cry. When we got to the office and I went into the back and laid in the oh-so-comfortable chair, I was holding it together pretty well. Or so I thought. The Dentist came over to offer her support. She had lost her brother at a young age and shared with me that in time, the memories and thoughts of him no longer held the same “sting.” I have heard that from others. “Sting” is about the biggest understatement I’ve heard in 3 months. Try more like a sledgehammer, chainsaw, chinese star, harpoon, machete, gunshot, poison arrow, and high-heeled shoe impact plus about a bazillion percent and we’re on the way to understanding the “Sting” of losing a child. But I digress.

Can you tell what’s coming? Yup. I lost it. Silent tears poured down my face. I’m at least glad they were silent because I am an ugly crier. The sobbing, hiccuping, sniffling, scrunched up red faced kind of ugly crier. So silent tears were likely the benefit of that little white pill I was smart enough to take.© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporation

There I was, laid back in that chair with the bib surrounding my neck, the bright light shining directly on my face. The Dentist in a mask with only her eyes visible, trying to offer me words of comfort and my mascara is leaking into my ears. (Oh yes, I even put on makeup in an attempt of looking half-way human today. Not going to bother with that nonsense next time.) I felt like I was in some kind of horror movie. Truly, my life IS a horror right now.

So what did I do? Did I get up running away screaming from the injustice of it all? I sure as Hell wanted to! No, I stayed and thanked her profusely with my outside voice while my inside voice cursed and ranted and, for once, stayed inside my head. I attribute this to that awesome little white pill I was smart enough to take. Yay me for that.

Enter the Hygienist, who happens to be a friend of mine. She was my Savior today. She simply handed me a tissue and said she was “Only going to say this. I think about you and your family every day.” That simple statement gave me permission. That simple statement said she understood to the best of her ability having never gone through such an experience. I thanked her, and this time it was sincere. Both my outside voice and my inside voice concurred. I told her that I was just going to cry through the appointment because Nolan was supposed to be with us today. She said that was absolutely fine. And you know what? It was.

Most people get really awkward around Grief. There was nothing she could do to make it any better and we both knew it. She simply held space (and cleaned my teeth; no cavities; yay me) and let me pull myself together.

It hurts like hell right now. When I made this appointment 6 months ago, the thought that Nolan would die had never crossed my mind! I never thought “I hope we are all still alive and together in 6 months.” That would have been absurd. As I made the next appointment for just the 3 of us, <insert more tears here> I prayed. I really did. Please God, Goddess, Beings of Light and Love, Jesus, Joseph, Mary, and Whoever the F*** Else is in charge up there – PLEASE let the 3 of us still be alive and together in 6 months.

What else can I do?

12 thoughts on “Dentist Day”

  1. Your vivid descriptions are amazing and really pull me in, even though I was there, this seems more real to me. Have I ever told you that you are an awesome writer?


  2. So sorry for your loss. Ther is nothing worse than losing a child. My son was killed by a drunk driver 20 years ago and every day I feel that loss. The big things (birthdays and holidays) you can sort of prepare for but the little things tear you apart. It won’t get better but remember the happy times and it will get easier.


    1. Thank you. I can honestly say I am so so so very sorry for your loss as well. You’ve made it 20 years “Since,” and I look at you in awe. I can only hope to have the strength you do.


  3. What else can you do…I say you live every moment you have in the best way you can, that’s what you do. That’s the only thing you can do. Spend it crying if that’s what’s you need in the moment. It’s important to cry. Spend a moment making sure the ones you love know how much you love them. And why. Spend a moment finding a spiritual connection with Nolan through something that makes you feel connected to him. Just really LIVE every moment. It’s what we all should do.
    Thank you so much for sharing your day, every trip to the dentist will now mean so much more than having my teeth cleaned.


  4. I’m not much of a commenter. But I wanted you to know, Amy, that I am reading. And thinking of you often. And that this one particularly got me. When I was a kid my family used to take over the dentist’s office for an afternoon in a similar way to what you describe. I can’t even begin to imagine your pain. But I hold all of you in my heart often. And I am glad that there are many others around you who do too.


  5. Amy,
    You write so well and it makes me empathize even more with your pain. Although I feel that I already have (from your FB posts), this blog is excellent at understanding your very personal experience. It is very “real”. This community loves you, your family, and your beloved Nolan.


  6. Ironically I’ve been in the dentist literally for the last 2 weeks plus for all of us and Sky for ortho. Trevor typically goes on his own. You hit home, it’s been like this for years and years where the Gardner clan takes over for an hour and a half to 2 hours. I could not imagine not having all of us go. Your writing is amazing and its real from the heart and raw. You are doing all the right things, because it’s what you are feeling at each moment of each day. Thank you for being so open. You are a fantastic writer as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. We don’t know each other but we have met. I am so sorry for your loss and it’s something no parent should have to experience. I hope you can find some comfort in the fact that Nolan (and his family) has touched so many who never knew him. I’m going to follow your blog because it is raw and honest. Go ahead and cry. I’m crying with you.


  8. amy. i loved reading this, it made my heart sink, and tears welled. i also wanted to tell you how poised you are. your emotions are raw; thank you for sharing this cathartic, and rough story. i can only imagine to have the need to write, but while doing so, you’re living thru those paralyzing grief. it’s a beautiful thing to be able to write this way, and keep it real. i *felt* as IF i were there as a mere fly on the wall, at the dentist, with you. poignantly stated. thinking of you. always. xoxo


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