Truth be told, I have struggled to come back to this blog since my mom’s passing. I guess you could say, I am a little gun-shy about continuing my journey to be a Bad Ass. Ultimately I know that these experiences are part of this journey to my inner Bad Ass – but the pain of loss is all too fresh still.
So I’ve avoided it.
Every time I sit down to make an entry there is undoubtedly something that comes to mind that must be done – in that moment. So I justify closing my lap-top, setting it aside and moving on to this all-too-important but yet so very unimportant distraction. Here I am today though, making it happen. Today I want to share with you the moment I truly committed to choosing laughter and acceptance over tears and resistance.
Does anyone remember the Roller Racer? It turns out that they still make them. I am surprised to learn this because as awesome as this toy seemed on TV when I was 6 years old, it was a HUGE disappointment. I remember the unexpected amount of effort that was required to get this thing to move! In the TV advertisement packs of kids would be flying along the sidewalks on their roller-racers, wind in their hair. In reality I could barely get this thing to roll. Being a 6 year old genius, I thought “all I need is a little momentum,” as I scanned the landscape of my cul-de-sac. Then, it came to me. My drive way had this lovely little down-hill slope. If I couldn’t get that thing rolling on flat land, at least I could enjoy the ride down the driveway. What I didn’t take into account was the seam at the bottom of the driveway that connected it to the garage floor. This seemingly insignificant 1/8th of an inch became very significant on my first voyage down the drive. My plan to gain momentum worked. As I approached the garage floor my Roller Racer hit that lip of the seam and came to a sudden halt and threw me forward, teeth-first, onto the garage floor. I remember screaming in pain. I screamed as hard as I could as an alert for my dad, who was inside, to come and get me. He did. Off we went to the ER.
That was the day that set my fate for 31 years later. Those teeth that broke my landing on the garage floor were my adult teeth. My front two adult teeth. They both took the hit but the one on the left (my left) died that day. It stayed in my head and even stayed straight but it lost blood flow. This led to years of discoloration, followed by cavities, fillings and root canals. This past year my dentist and I were making final plans to put a crown on it. I never got to that crown.
One day, the week following my mom’s passing, I was in bed, eating dark chocolate from a Wonka Bar. I aimed for a small bite, nibbling the corner of the square when “CRACK.” I heard the sound deep in my head. I ran to the bathroom mirror to find that my left front tooth (my left) was slightly ajar – it had shifted forward. Being that I was all full-up on shit to deal with, I went back to my bed and finished that bar with my back teeth. I managed to avoid using that tooth for 3 weeks before I admitted I needed to deal with it. I couldn’t avoid it any longer. By this time I was feeling some pain and the gum above was becoming more and more red. I made an emergency dental appointment.
My dentist, someone whom I’ve built some rapport with over the years, sat down and said,
“Summer, you did a number on that tooth. I am going to give it to you straight.”
In that moment I smiled big. I knew what he was going to say. That tooth had to come out.
In that moment it would have been ok if this had been the straw that broke me. It would have been appropriate to fall apart and ask the universe “WHAT MORE???? Are you kidding me? Now my front tooth too?????”
I chose to laugh.
My dentist proceeded to explain that for best results with a dental implant I would need to let my jaw heal for 6-12 months before we could even start to prepare for an implant. In the meantime I would have a “flipper.” A flipper for my front tooth. A flipper is essentially a temporary denture. A temporary denture for my FRONT TOOTH.
Yes, you are hearing this all correctly. I no longer have a front left (my left) tooth. Yes, it has been replaced with a “flipper” that comes in and out. Yes, I have a fake front. Yes, I gave my mom’s eulogy with this thing in my mouth. Yes, I had a lisp and I got used to it and yes, sometimes if I take bites that are too big it literally falls out!
Thank you universe for modern dentistry because as ridiculous as it is to have this thing in my mouth that gives me this fake front, at least I have a pretend tooth!!! Thank you universe for this being temporary. I will have an implant soon and it will actually be stronger than my dead tooth. Thank you universe for equipping me with joy and perspective so I can appreciate this leg of the journey.
My “before” picture.
My “after” picture.