When they came into the waiting room, I summed up our differences quicker than our likenesses. She was tall and willowy, a single mom, brunette, all business. Her son’s special need diagnosis was known to be “happy” and “sociable,” and sure enough, he sat in the chair right next to me, listening to his iPod through cool headphones. My own child sat as far away from me as possible, her posture tense, a pouty frown on her pretty face. She kept reminding me that she didn’t want to be here.
This dental visit wasn’t going to be fun.
A half hour later, in a different waiting area, the brunette mom slipped into a comfy chair next to mine. I noticed her out of the corner of my eye as I was speaking to the dental assistant about the plan for my daughter’s treatment. The brunette mom had the whole empty room to choose from, but she chose to sit in the seat next to me. Just like her son had earlier.
After the dental assistant left, I looked at the book in my lap. I’d looked forward to reading it, knowing I’d have about an hour to myself — no wifi, no excuse to plug in. Just read. But a little nagging voice inside me said Talk to her. Tell her what you’re thinking.
So I did. I turned, shook my head, and said, “It’s never easy, is it?”
She knew exactly what I meant. “It sure isn’t,” she said.
You see, both of our children — adults, really — were under general anesthesia in rooms closed off from our view. That alone is stressful. But after years of seeking dental care without anesthesia, and either the rare dentists enduring kicking, screaming, and biting, or in most cases, dentists turning Kristen away, saying “we just don’t have the resources to treat someone like her,” this is the only way to get treatment. It tears me up every time. I’m so thankful for this place, but it’s hard.
So this brunette woman and I have common ground, right here in this hard part of life.
My book remained closed, but my heart opened. Though her son had a different diagnosis initially, our kids shared many characteristics. She told me about her breast cancer. We traded special needs parent tips, chuckled about things our kids did and said, and talked about faith. When Kristen and I left, my soul was full.
I don’t know why I thought they were so different from us. We share the same heart.
Photo credit: Joey Sforza, Unsplash.com