Wednesday, November 02, 2005

"Do you have any little ones at home?"

That was the question I was dreading.

I went to the dentist today - a new one I've only been to once before almost two years ago (yes, I was long overdue) - and I knew somehow the question would get asked.

I thought about it a lot beforehand and already knew that if anyone asked, I'd tell them about my Thomas. Today I just didn't have it in me to deny that he existed. Some days it's much easier to say "no" or "not yet" and leave it at that, but I couldn't do that to either of us today for some reason. Actually right now I'm not sure I'll ever be able to say no again. Talking about Thomas - telling someone that he existed - felt very, very good.

Anyway, typically, the hygienist asked while she had both hands and two tools in my mouth. I have no idea why dentists and hygienists do that. A friend of mine who has a hearing impaired sister-in-law taught me the alphabet in sign language, so if my hygienest happened to be fluent I could have spelled out my answers. But I sagely assumed she wasn't.

Once she removed all the foreign objects from my mouth I spluttered, "Well, we had a baby in March but he died after 20 hours", through a mouthful of bloody spit and tooth debris.

She gasped and whispered an apology while I tried vainly to articulate through body language and hand gestures that I wanted to spit before saying anything more, but before I knew it I had a suction and both her hands in my mouth again.

She filled the awkward silence with nervous blather about how long my eyelashes are. She complimented me on both their length and thickness, and she told me how much she envied me for having such nice eyelashes.

I have a dead son, but damn fine eyelashes. Enviable ones, even.

Yup. I'm a lucky girl.

I know she did her best. I know it's shockingly horrible news to hear and certainly not the answer you expect when you ask if someone has children. She was kind and she didn't ask any prying questions, even though I was prepared to answer them and was almost hoping I'd get a chance to say more - to talk about my Thomas to someone who doesn't know our story and has no idea what a beautiful little thing he was.

But she played it safe, as I'm sure I would have if I was in her shoes, and so all she knows is that he was born and died in less than a day. And, of course, that I have stunning lashes.

That's certainly one for the books. Now I'm kind of interested to hear what my hair dresser will have to say when I see her for the first time tomorrow.

I'll keep you posted.


Catherine said...

An innocent question from an innocent person...they are the most lethal. They start a whole line of thinking that most normal people will never have to even consider. I'm sorry you have to weigh the option of recognizing your Thomas or not. It's not fair and it's not supposed to be this way. You should still be innocent too.

Good luck with the hairdresser.

Bronwyn said...

It's so hard to know what to say. I used to ask the question of people I'd just met myself, but I never do it anymore. For most people it's like talking about the weather; they're not terribly interested in the answer, they just want to fill the space with some kind of conversation. I hope you have an easier time with your hairdresser. At least your mouth will be free to talk if s/he asks you any probing questions about Thomas.