I took a trip to the dentist not too long ago. A two-hour drive one way with four kids, grandma, and Marty the dog. Yes, it was a bit much! By the time we got there, the kids had put stickers all over the back seats of the car and a quick glance showed my daughter with chicken nuggets in hand, concentrating heavily as she made art on her window, leaving a trail of white chunks behind..Gross!
Since we moved, it was time to find a new dentist. It was hard to leave my old one, as with every passing year, I found myself looking forward to going to my annual check ups. For some strange reason, it felt like home and was such a comfortable and inviting place. It was also the dentist that Lydia had gone to. Nonetheless, the changing of the seasons had come and my resistance had to give in.
Now I found myself in a new setting with new people. New beginnings make for uneasy feelings and a fear of the unknown. After the three kids went, it was my turn. In walked a beautiful tall young lady with dirty blonde hair much like my own.
Taking a deep breath, formulating my response in my mind as she scrapes away at my teeth, I was so preoccupied I didn’t even notice the painful pokes in my gums. Yet, I knew IT was coming. The question that never fails when you meet someone new.
Thoughts overtake me; should I lie and say I have four kids and not mention Lydia or tell her? The first did enter my mind as the easiest way out of this. My mind was bouncing all over the place, trying to find my answer before IT came.
Well maybe she won’t ask, I thought. Right. Wishful thinking.
My young daughter sat in the room with me. As I was laying in the dentist chair, the adorable, friendly hygienist, talked about her family, schooling and life in general. Soon after, my daughter walked to be by my side as if she was wanting to comfort me. She grabbed my hand and began stroking my hair, meticulously watching the hygienist’s every move, making sure her mom was okay.
We start chatting about school, children, careers, the whole gamut. She then looked down and my little girl and said, “Wow, is she the only girl with three brothers?”
And there it came as I nervously anticipated, the elephant in the room, making a grand entrance, stomping loudly.
Without fail, year after year, time after time, it comes. After six years of loss, I still cringe when I feel this question making its presence known.
So I said with confidence and reassurance, “No, she had a sister who passed away, my oldest.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” she said as she finished up and quickly left the room.
Here she was, a new mother who could not even imagine or grasp what I had just told her. Why did I have to say this. I wonder, did she get it? Of course not. It probably went in one ear and out the other, as many cannot comprehend, nor want to imagine such a thing. I don’t blame them. I used to be one of them, not wanting to invite such a scenario. You know, the kind of person that hates to talk about death and upon hearing of someone losing a loved one, or a child for that matter, thinking how awful that would be and quickly change the subject. Yet I let my mind experience that nightmare just for a moment and then go on with my normal life. Sound familiar?
But that doesn’t even scratch the surface of the depth of the pain, and then I knew, I was speaking a foreign language to her. As I my appointment came to an end and we parted ways, we exchanged goodbyes and I said, “enjoy and cherish the times as they truly do pass too soon.”
Next, I sat silently waiting for the dentist to come in. My daughter climbed up into my lap, wrapped her arms around my neck and said, “I love you Mom.” Now overcome with gratitude and love, I knew I had been blessed as I wiped away my tears.
To some, this may not seem like a big deal, but to us who have been there, it’s always a big deal.
So what to do with that elephant in the room? Take him head on, befriend him, open your heart and make your loved one proud. Don’t be afraid to speak their name or make others uncomfortable, for your loved ones will always be a part of you.
I pray often that others don’t experience this tragic loss and deep sorrow. However, if it does come your way, just remember, God gives us everything we need to survive the storm.
And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.