Those front teeth hadn’t even been wiggly, at least not enough for her to have mentioned it to me. And yet, one came out on a Friday night after a fateful bite of pizza. And then again, not even 24 hours later, my snaggle-toothed six-year-old approached me again, telling me it was time for the other one to go, as well.
In less than a day, her little-girl smile, with perfect teeth lined up like neat rows of tiny white Chiclets, was gone forever. I don’t think of myself as especially sentimental, but I may have listened to Meryl Streep sing “Slipping Through My Fingers” a few weepy times through just to mark the occasion.
My sister Leslie asked Abby to sing “Sisters, Sisters” to her on the phone the day after the second tooth came out, so that she could get a good sample of Abby’s new snaggletooth lisp. It was another traumatic moment: I realized I’d never gotten a good video of Abby singing that song, pre-lisp.
You know what that means? I’m just going to have to remember it! AS IF.
For me, the worst part of the movie Inside Out was the existence of all those little gray memory balls. It’s terrible to think of how many moments of my own life, my children’s lives, all of human history are just gone. This makes me feel sad and unsettled inside, like when I see a beautiful old house gone to ruin or one of those online slide shows of photos of abandoned buildings.
I know that this is a huge reason I’ve wanted to write here again. It’s why I keep starting over on “1000 Gifts” lists or daily journals; somehow writing down records of little thoughts, moments, details makes them feel more real, more important. It’s my way of fighting against my sense of smallness or my insecurity that what I’m doing with my days doesn’t add up to much in the long run.
I’m pretty sure this is symptomatic of some faulty assumptions on my part. If I were to diagnose this behavior in someone else, I’d probably say that person suffered from an inflated sense of self-importance, that she should accept her smallness as so many (forgotten ones) have one before, that she should trust God for her value rather than finding it in her everyday actions. I’d say she should enjoy everyday moments for what they are without trying to bestow extra importance on them. I’d suggest that she read “Ozymandias” and Ecclesiastes and spend less time following online celebrities on Instagram.
So yeah, that’s probably all true. And yet, here I am, with my blog and my notebook, with my hoarder’s stash of terrible-quality iPhone videos and a little plastic treasure box containing three tiny teeth, trying to hold all the moments in my mind and heart.
(P.S. This struggle is not new.)