Friday, February 7, 2014

Falling Teeth & Turning Pages

It was something so simple. My youngest daughter stood there in front of me with blood on her lips but a smile proudly plastered on her face. “I lost my tooth!” she exclaimed. She’d been wiggling that thing for a while now and she was so excited. It was her first.

Today we’d even been to the dentist. I had asked about a different tooth, dark grey from a fall a few months ago. It was fine, not badly damaged. It would fall out on its own unless something changed. We smiled and chatted about her tiny bottom tooth, normal and moving towards falling out. I hadn’t expected it to be tonight.

As she went off to brush her teeth for bed, it happened. No huge effort—it was just time. Her sister warned her it would bleed but Lucy wasn’t a bit scared. She was too excited for this new milestone.

She proudly held it out for me to see as I tried to press a cool washcloth on her bleeding gum. And it hit me—Kraig was missing this. I had to turn away so Lucy wouldn’t see me struggling for composure in her shining, big-girl moment.

He always got a little sappy about their baby teeth. I remember one night telling him that no, the “tooth fairy” should not hold on to them. That was creepy. He just said it was a tiny part of when they were little and he had a hard time letting it go.

Tonight was another milestone gone by without him. Earlier this week it was Jarod’s debut on the high school stage in Ghostbusters. Only two of my friends knew that before we were seated, I was so overwhelmed that Kraig was missing this that I fled to the bathroom to quietly sob in the stall—not wanting anyone to see me or hear me. Jarod did amazing and had no idea the moment was bittersweet for his mom.

There will be many milestones where his absence will be noticeable. That makes me sad.

But tonight I also found myself watching the end of a favorite movie of ours with my girls—Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. They picked it out. It’s a movie about a man with a magic toy store who declares today is the day when it is his time to die and he wants to pass the magic on to his assistant. It is anything but a sad movie. It’s a movie about celebrating the magic in our lives. Mr. Magorium has one of my favorite lines from a movie: “Your life is an occasion—rise to it.”

As I sat snuggling Lucy and sitting across from Kati we talked about Daddy and heaven. We talked about the lines Dustin Hoffman utters about dying. He talks about the end of Shakespeare’s King Lear, a five act play that simply ends with “He dies.” Mr. Magorium tells his grief-stricken assistant and friend that while this is the end of his character’s story, it is an opportunity for her to turn the page and keep writing the story of her life.

I told my girls that we are turning the page. We remember Daddy’s contribution to our story and we cherish it. “He was the best daddy in the world,” Lucy added. Kati smiled. But now, I explained (as did the movie), we turn the page and keep writing our stories. Daddy would have wanted that.

So tonight the tooth fairy drifted down to Lucy’s room and placed a fresh one dollar bill where the tooth had been tucked away. No, she didn’t hold on to it. And though his absence in yet another milestone is tangible tonight, I choose to turn the page. The story goes on.

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