On Wednesday, I walked into the Dentist’s office with sweaty palms and an empty stomach. No food or drink 8 hours before a 1:30pm appointment, Doctors orders. The one day Mom said I should actually sleep in until 1pm was the one day I managed to wake up at 8am without an alarm. We all know a 1:30 appointment time really means 2:30pm. So, I anxiously waited for the nurse to call my name. When she did, I just knew i would be enduring 3 hours of torture It was 30 minutes and was as easy as sleeping. LIterally, they stuck an iv in my arm, said I’d fall asleep in 30 seconds but continued to ask me questions. I don’t remember falling asleep. I do remember when I woke up. I had four less teeth than when I went to sleep. My wisdom teeth were gone, and in its place were balls of cotton. 3/4ths of my face was numb. I really wanted to ride the rainbow slide that was in my dream. Instead, I was in the same chair I had fallen asleep in. The nurse helped me walk outside to the car, my dad drove me home. Then I went about life as usual as if nothing ever happened. Nope. The surgery itself might have lasted a few moments in my mind, but the healing was going to take time. Later that afternoon, my good friend texted me saying that she had gotten her wisdom teeth removed that same day. We texted each other selfies of our swollen faces, our milkshakes/icecream meals, we talked about how ridiculous it is to try and eat a milkshake while your face is numb. We checked in on each other throughout the next few days because healing takes time. In fact my friend texted me a few minutes ago, and asked “hey, how are you healing?” And it got me thinking about community, and when tragedy strikes. And there’s two things I wanna talk about that relate to this whole wisdom tooth experience.
1. “I know how you feel!”
I am thankful for my friend that I got to share this experience with. Though the pain was never pleasant, it was nice knowing I was not alone. I could text her and complain about the pain, knowing she knew exactly how it felt. Several others shared their experiences with me and encouraged me via text or social media. It reminded me of last September when my parent’s separated. Around the same time, I got a text from a friend saying that her parents at separated as well. We vented on the phone and expressed similar frustrations, doubt, worry and despair. Later in the semester, another friend came to me and said that her parents had separated. She had heard that my parents had separated and she wanted to have lunch. We met and talked about our situations, our pain, our questions. Hearing her talk about her feelings, and thoughts made me feel less crazy. I found myself saying, “really? me too!” in response to most of what she was saying. Talking with someone who is where you’re at, or who has been through what you’re going through is an amazing experience. It’s a beautiful picture of what community is.
2. “How are you healing?”
My friend texted me this question earlier and it spurred this whole blog. In the last few days, my friend and i have kept each other updated on our tooth pain. It wasn’t a competition of who hurt the most. It just us sharing where we were at in the process of healing and a thought occurred. Wouldn’t it beautiful if we treated emotional pain the same way? I feel that we fail each other as friends and as a community when are not consistent. It is easy to understand and expect that physical pain takes time to heal. But, when it comes to grief, it’s a whole new ball park. For example, a friend has something happen them, you cry and pray with them on Monday. Then you check off “help grieving friend” off your list of things to do and move on. Healing is a process whether it’s physical or emotional. . Whether you got four teeth removed, you lost a loved one, your gf/bf broke up with you, or your arm broke. There is pain. But there is also healing. And it all takes time. You don’t have to bake them a casserole everyday. Just hug them when you see them, be intentional, be real. It can be as easy as asking, “Hey, how are you healing?”