I went to the dentist. I like my dentist, Mohamed; I like my hygienist, Crystal; I like the office manager, Paula. I like them all. They are nice and they do great work. I saw them since Constance passed. At the time, I didn’t mention Constance’s passing as the reason I was grinding my teeth. They all knew about Constance and I didn’t want to make them cry.
When I came in, Paula came out to the lobby to give her condolences. In an effort to comfort me, she said, “Constance got you as a mom because you’re so...” She tried to complete her sentence by holding her arms up in a loop over her head. ‘Big?’ I thought but, “Exuberant?” I attempted. “Loving,” she corrected. Continuing, she said, “She had a short life but she was lucky because she had you as a mom. You loved her as much as many long lives.” I exploded with tears as I said, “Thank you for saying that.” I took her inquiry as to how I was doing to be a literal question and answered at length. When you’re crying about your dead kid, it’s hard for people to politely excuse themselves and return to their work.
When I got back to see Crystal, she gave me her condolences too. She said that she’d googled me when talking to a friend about how I’d read 365 books in a year. The search results told her about Constance. Many people found out online from ways other than the obituary. I thanked her. I tried to quickly change the subject and asked her lots of questions about herself. I didn’t feel like I could make them all spend an hour with me crying. Crystal is a very interesting woman who travels extensively so we always have something to talk about. I also appreciate that she laughs at my pun filled oral hygiene jokes, no matter how in poor taste they are.
Cleaning complete, Mohamed did his exam. It was precluded, of course, by his condolences. When he said he’d heard… [about Constance dying] while gesturing to their open-air office. I accepted his apology while joking that the next time I’ll send out a press release so everyone can hear at once. I wanted to keep the tone as light as possible. No need to derail all of their days. When looking at the crowding and damage not yet rectified by my retainer, he teased, “It looks like a ‘before’ picture,” while making a sour lemon face. It was so funny.
That’s life these days: hugging, and crying, and laughing, and then doing it all again. Maybe that’s always been life. The cycle is just much more sped up now.