A second post about teeth.

This morning I needed a q-tip after my shower.  I actually don’t use them that often, so I had to go on a short hunt. I opened the bathroom drawer that had been assigned to Z.  It was stuck shut.  I reached in to clear the obstruction and found it was being held shut by the industrial sized q-tip box I’d gotten from Costco.

I honestly am not sure when I purchased that box.  It is possible that I purchased them when Joe was alive.  It’s also possible I purchased it right after we got to Grand Rapids.  I mean, we really don’t use q-tips at an industrial sized pace.  Either way, I know I’ve owned this particular package for a really, really long time since I distinctly remember moving it to the house with the rest of our bathroom stuff.

After I jimmied the drawer open, I did a sweep of the back of her drawer to pull everything forward so the box would sit properly.  One of the items recovered in the sweep was the case that contained her retainers.

I decided to get the girl’s teeth fixed when they were really young. I think Z was in 3rd grade when she got them.  Teeth move fast when they are young, so braces aren’t as traumatic on the mouth.  The bummer of that situation is that if teeth are fixed that early, consistent and constant retainer use is crucial.  Otherwise teeth go back to whence they came in very short order.

As per kid-life, she was terribly bad about wearing her retainers.  She lost the first set.  When I purchased a second set I threatened the rest of her Christmas mornings should she not wear them.

Even under the threat of disappointing gifts, she maintained a strong record of spotty use.

I’m actually pretty sure that she “lost” these retainers in middle school.  Maybe they were left somewhere?  Maybe they were at a friend’s house?  Who knows? She didn’t know. I told her this would be one of the biggest regrets of her adult life as I wouldn’t be a patron of constant retainer replacement.

One of the things that bereaved parents and widow/ers have in common is a fear of losing sharp memory.  I’ve talked about this ad nauseum because it’s a big deal.  Losing the concise image is a huge weight on the lives of those left behind.  We don’t want the memory of our beloved to dim or fall out of focus.

How high was her pip-squeak voice?  Sometimes I have a hard time recalling his voice.  Was it gravely?  It wasn’t that deep, but it was definitely a man’s voice.  He sang sometimes.  Rockstar ambitions ran out on family life and mortgage payments.

I remember so many things they said to me, I remember the proclamations of “I love you” and the funny conversations, (and some of the not-so-great times as well), but my memory stores these things more as transcript rather than recording.

Z and Joe were both thin.  But how thin, exactly?  How tight could I squeeze my arms?  I have a general idea, but without the physical resistance of flesh, their memories can be hugged with no hindrance or limits.

She was taller than my ears, but shorter than the top of my head.  I could look him dead in the eyes.

I hate that I can’t recall every detail and curve and line of their bodies. I hate that my facsimiles of them created in my mind are always going to be imprecise.

But her teeth?  I will always have the exact size, shape, spacing, and contour of every orthodontically curated tooth in her head.


Finding her retainers is a weird sort of blessing.   I have a thing that is a faithful reproduction of her physical being, but old retainers are empirically kind of gross.  3 stars.


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