This is the first time I’ve lost a spouse but this is not the first time I’ve had to reinvent myself. I have no problem putting on my big girl panties, sucking it up and dealing with it. Unfortunately, my body does not entirely share this sentiment. It hasn’t been sleeping well. Its blood pressure is higher than I would like it to be. It periodically rejects food and is being rather uncooperative. My doctor prescribed some meds. I argued and he countered, ‘Your mind may be fine but your body is not. These things are, to put it plainly, the result of extreme stress. So is the loss of your hair.’
My hair is the one thing I love most about my body and to have some missing is just too much. Losing it is like losing a piece of myself. To be fair, I have only lost about 1/4 of it. I do not have bald spots or anything like that. It is still thicker than the average head of hair but it is also simply, suddenly and significantly less.
Being an okay-what-do-we-need-to-do-to-fix-this-ASAP kind of girl, I made an appointment with my stylist and poured my heart out as she whittled away at my hair, adding highlights and lowlights to make it look normal. She did a great job making it look thick and vibrant, even healthy! I promptly posted pictures of my new ‘do on Facebook and the affirmations started rolling in. 66 people (Whoot!) liked my hair and many of them commented – including my friend JAH.
She was commenting from the ICU where she is battling a septic infection, a complication from rectal cancer surgery. Her chemo has been delayed because of her infection. So, here I am, upset about losing some (not all, not even most) of my hair when I know it will grow back and everything will eventually be okay. At the same time, JAH has all of her hair but delaying its loss is literally killing her.
As I pondered this, another friend, her profile picture showing her smiling face and completely bald head, commented on my photo, “Beautiful!” JMW just finished her last round of chemo for breast cancer. And, she is far more beautiful than I am. And radiant. And confident. Did I mention beautiful? Even without (especially without) her hair.
The last thing I want is to be sentimental or preachy or predictable or Made-for-Lifetime Movie-ish but… this really happened. And, I feel terrible. I don’t want to be vain about my hair. I want to be like JAH, cheering up other people, posting pictures of myself wearing boxing gloves and declaring victory over life circumstances. I want to be able to wear my hair loss with dignity and grace and confidence like JMW, taking pride in my battle scars. Most days, regarding most things, I believe I can do this.
Loss of spouse? “Tough but I can do this!”
Loss of my home? “It’s okay. We’ll save and get another.”
Loss of money & credit resulting from my spouses’s personal issues? “I can do this if I work hard.”
Loss of time as I commute for hours everyday? “The extra time with my son is awesome!”
Loss of hair? I guess I have some work to do.
Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
What does man gain by all the toil
at which he toils under the sun?
A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
and hastens to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.
All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.
All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
~ Ecclesiastes 1:2 – 9