I kissed an electric toothbrush last night
Last night I kissed an electric toothbrush as I told it goodbye. Weird, I know. Ramón got the toothbrush a few days before he was diagnosed with leukemia, so it spent more time in a hospital than most people ever will. That toothbrush encountered more ups and downs than the average oral hygiene product. I reluctantly brought it home from the hospital when he was put in a medically induced coma. I had no clue that he’d never use it again.
A few months after Ramón died, my electric toothbrush stopped working. It was the same as Ramón’s, so I still had many replacement heads. At first I was hesitant to use his toothbrush, as though it was a relic that should be showcased in the museum of Ramón’s life. But, practically speaking, why buy a new one?
So, I started using it. Our toothbrushes (brushi?) were different colors, so the base and the head have been mismatched for years. Each time I picked it up, I remembered it was part me and part Ramón—the closest we got to procreating.
But, in the past few days, the toothbrush became damaged beyond repair. I’ve never been much of a “things” person, but it’s hard to say goodbye to items that were very much a part of our shared life. I realize the toothbrush itself doesn’t carry any significance; it’s the meaning I attached to it. I took a perfectly innocent toothbrush and turned it into something more than it was.
After I tested my new toothbrush last night, I gave the old one a little hug. Then I kissed it. (Marie Kondo led me to this habit—her philosophy of thanking things before you let them go has become a routine part of my grief process.)
Ramón’s trademark smile didn’t come without hard work. He was an avid brusher and a white strip fanatic. I can still cherish his beautiful smile without the toothbrush. But it’s funny how grief works—how it can make even the most mundane objects feel symbolic.
With every little goodbye to the way things were, I make more room in my heart for the way things are.
And sometimes that involves stealing a kiss from a toothbrush.