Kevin found a tooth on our living room rug this morning on our way out to Lowe’s (ironically, to buy a new living room rug). We immediately realized that, since this tooth did not belong to either of us, it belonged to one of our feline family members. Upon close (and fearful) examination of both of our cats, we confirmed the that tooth in question once belonged to Sophie. We have no idea when it came out because she wasn’t acting funny at all. She looked happy to have her belly rubbed and lay in the pool of sunshine collecting on our bed. I immediately tried to recall the last time she had a vet trip–some time last year? I remember Kevin’s report that the vet mentioned gum or teeth problems. Was it gums? Was it teeth? Had it really been that long since we’d taken her in? I felt like a complete and utter failure. How could we have let this happen?
Teeth are a big anxiety thing for me in both a literal and figurative sense. Thanks to the awesomness of genes, I have inherited bad teeth from my father. I’ve had plenty of fillings and a few more brushes with potential root canals than I’d care to admit. In fact, I think it’s a special kind of uncanny that I have a dental appointment of my own this week to fix 3 cavaties and put a crown on a tooth that was improperly “saved” from a root canal about 5 years ago. My blood pressure rises just thinking about it.
Teeth also play a pretty important role in my subconcious. When I’m feeling stressed or anxious in my waking hours, it is not at all uncommon for me to have horrible dreams where my jaw locks and my teeth suddenly turn to dust or worse yet–they actually crumble in my mouth so I end up literally grinding my broken crushed teeth and choking on them. Most unpleasant, I know. I know you can imagine my horror and complete disgust to realize something so utterly dream like had actually taken place. It was as if we’d found my own tooth on the rug. I held back tears as we stood in line at the store with a case of soft, canned, cat food to offer until we get her to the vet this week.
The thing is this: stuff happens. If anything, this is an all too vivid reminder not to take things for granted, that life works best when you work at it. There are lots of parts of my life that would be better if I paid better and constant attention and care to them. But the thing to remember here too, is that there are no guarantees. All we can be expected to do in this life is try the hardest we can, learn from the consequences, and hold strong in the face of whatever negative comes our way. In the end, the truth (and the tooth) will set you free.