Monday, September 15, 2008

Her Immortality

I went to the dentist the other day and made three disturbing discoveries:

1) He was not in my network, so I am a couple hundred dollars poorer.

2) Going to the dentist at 7 am without any children is a mini-vacation.

3) I am going to die someday.

My third realization was rather abrupt (I wish the first realization had been!). There we were, talking about my candidacy for short-term Invisiline, when all of the sudden he said, "I want to caution you, though, that if you do choose to use Invisiline, you will have to use retainers at night on and off, well, for the rest of your life."

For some reason, that "for the rest of your life" part was really weird to hear. He was being disturbingly casual about my death, I felt.

It is one thing for me to say that I will have to use something or do something for the rest of my life, because that is sort of like saying that I will have to do it forever. Said this way, my life = forever. The way the dentist phrased it, he made it sound as if 1)the world will carry on after 2)I die. I object!

Maybe I should include my emotional distress over his remarks in the letter I am drafting to them (which everyone who knows me knows I won't mail) petitioning for a reduction in the fee, since I DID ask whether they took my insurance and was told they did.

I do have a hard time accepting the aging process, and I don't mean just in my own body, but in all the people and things, even buildings, that Time corrupts. I hate the idea of being buried someday. Seeing cemeteries on the side of busy roads, full of names now forgotten and unmourned, makes me feel strange. But, in a sort of Buddhist way, I suppose, I like the idea of going back into the earth and becoming part of the elemental cycle.

But even more, I like to imagine that, through the things that I teach my kids and the memories we create together, the characteristics that I pass to them through my genes or my behavior, through love, we are forging a cosmic rope that tethers me both to them through their mortal lives and also to this physical world, beyond the grave, through the generations of our family line. That all people who love are forging these invisible ties.

Invisible, Invisiline. I come full circle.


Ashley said...

This post makes me want to go out to lunch with you. How sad that the dentist at 7:00 am is a mini va-cay, but it so is.

Tat said...

Shakespeare said something like that several dozen times (not the "Invisible, Invisiline" thing, but the idea that we live on through our descendants. That's why I'm having myself cryogenically frozen.

Allie said...

Mortality is an interesting topic. I dwell on it far more often than necessary. When my mom died, I recall the strangeness and emptiness I felt that the world around me could function normally still. Of course I say world AROUND me, my world fell down the drain for a while. Sometimes I feel remarkably small and insignificant in a world that has gone on so long before me and will hopefully go on after me (I'd hate to think I go out in some sort of global explosion or implosion of the earth, but you never know...) I watch my kids play and remember when I was their age, then I realize generations of mothers have had the same thoughts while watching their children play. Then I feel weird about approaching middle age. My grandma talks about going to lunch with the girls and then she adds, "Well, girls with grandma faces..." It's one of my favorite lines. Oh, and how frustrating about the insurance!

Sarah said...

Sorry that your mini vacation had to bring on such morbid thoughts. I think you're right, that somehow, a real physical part of us does live on through those we love. That's a cool thought. I've never liked the idea of dying much either.

Mer Swift said...

Toby, Toby, I'm so glad that I could invade your thoughts for a short moment and read this...oh, and also procrastinate reading John Dewey's Experience and Education. Sorry, I didn't call you back. I called Brigham though. I'll get you Hunter's number though. He's doing well. He's always doing well. Sometimes I'm amazed that I really have such a great brother. I hear you are in Oakton now! Kate says you are liking it.

Audrey said...

Sitting in the dentist's chair a few weeks back I almost thought I was laying in a beach chair. It was that relaxing. I can totally identify.

I don't like the thought of anything getting older. Especially not myself, Scott or our boys. If I could freeze us all where we are right now I honestly would.