Susan's Blog

Monday, July 13, 2009

We Can Make This Into More Than Words We Speak

How can we really know?
Just how it feels, how does it feel?
–Jack Johnson

I took Nat to the dentist this morning to get a cavity filled. I was glad to have him for this extra night, coming off of the vacation week. It would have been too abrupt to send him back Sunday. Not that it was easy keeping anxiety away while I waited for his appointment; I was definitely worried that he would be freaked by the needle in his gum. I still cannot relax and have faith in him. I’m still filled with the possibilities of how he might act. I’m terrified, deep down, of him hurting another person and having to go through our judicial system, like Sky Walker. I’m more afraid of that than of him hurting me. I don’t go through my days living in fear of this, of course; it’s just that there is this low-level dread that is with me when I take him to appointments like this one.

Of course, he was fine. In fact, he was giddy. I hid behind the half-wall and listened in on things, ready to jump in and save whoever might need saving. Nat giggled through the entire thing, without the benefit of laughing gas. The dentist kept up a steady stream of chatter: “Do you like boats, Nat? I love boats. I have a friend who has a big boat. You’d like him.” Afterwards, the dentist shrugged to me and said, “That’s it!” or something like that. I had a lot of questions, having never had a cavity myself, such as when he could eat, whether he would feel pain as the local wore off. “That was intense!” I said. “For you, I guess,” replied the dentist. “He’s great. Always is.” I’m so glad he thinks so.

After that, I took Nat to school. My stomach was tight with dread. But Nat was very smiley stomping into the classroom. He gave me a nice long relaxed hug goodbye.

I cried as I walked to the car. It had been a great vacation, wonderful having him with us. It is not easy, but I think that is because it still hasn’t registered with me that he is okay. He handles most situations with aplomb and enthusiasm. The current experiences with Nat do not match the apprehension I usually feel about him. That sucks.

When I got home I was tired. I could either nap or something else. I did something else: a 10-mile bike ride. I listened to Jack Johnson on my shuffle and sang or whistled all the way through Brookline. I was thinking, over and over in that benign repetitive manner that biking induces (which is why I do it; it takes the edge off all of my thoughts), that I don’t know what Nat thinks or feels and that this is the biggest loss, for me and for him. I thought, “How does it feel to be Nat? Numb? Vaguely sad? Happy and unfettered?” And that song, What You Thought You Need was on and reverberated relevantly. How does it feel? Just how it feels.

1 comment

You have never had a cavity???!!! WOW! Funny, all my kids love going to the dentist…I remember the first time that I took my boys…oh I had so many of the same fears..They loved it..They love going.
The dentist is one of my greatest fears…so I actually feel quite proud of myself that I didn't transfer my dental anxiety on to them..

— added by kathleen on Monday, July 13, 2009 at 8:33 pm

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