And They’re Off!

No, this is not a post about a race.

Or strip poker.

Or a bucket of prawns in the sun.

It’s about Marvel Girl’s braces — which came off last week. (Please feel free to do a happy dance at this juncture, even though they’re not your braces.)

Except it’s not exactly about Marvel Girl getting her braces off, but about the fact that even though it has been more than seven and a half years since I wrote this post about her losing her very first tooth, my sense of saudade remains.

Back then, when she was ever so much smaller (and definitely not taller than me, which she is now), I expressed it like this:

I feel saudade most acutely in those moments when part of me recognises, at some deep and otherwise undetected level, that after this, things will never be the same. These are the occasions when I feel that I am bearing witness to life — most frequently, for me, to the lives of my daughters. These are the moments that are captured by my heart’s camera, imprinted between heartbeats, indelible impressions of life most raw and pure.

That same feeling hit me all over again when Marvel Girl’s braces were removed, except this time I was also ready with my phone camera, to photograph the first glimpse of her beautiful new smile — a smile that reached all the way to her eyes and truly made them twinkle.

The smile that had never been seen before, hidden as it had been behind carefully positioned chunks and bands of metal for so long.

The smile that had not been gained without more than a year’s worth of careful teeth cleaning, diligent application of tiny rubber bands multiple times a day, and — let’s be honest — a decent amount of pain.

The smile that somehow made my Marvel Girl look three years older than she did when she sat down in the orthodontist’s chair less than an hour earlier.

The smile that made me think of the wise words of the American poet, Mary Oliver, who was so good at capturing in scant, succinct lines the sentiments that came rushing through my brain and body that afternoon.

Of how ridiculously precious — and short — life is.

Of how clinging to the past is pointless, and possibly perverse.

Of how pining for the future always denies us the present.

Of how important it is to pay attention to the here and now, since it is all we truly have.

Of saudade, all over again.

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