Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

red ink…

We have spent an unhealthy portion of our 20+ year friendship talking about, obsessing about hair – our hair, other people’s hair, our daughter’s hair. We have talked about lengths, products, and styles more times than we can count, and even vowed together not to pass on our craziness to our daughters. And now – in a flash, her hair is gone. Understand that her hair was cut stylishly short (think younger Halle Berry) long before the cancer diagnosis. I was jealous, having worn my hair really short years earlier, and wondered aloud with her about cutting my hair. My mid-chin length short hair was starting to feel like it was dating me. I was grateful for the picture that her husband sent on Halloween of her looking beautiful and posing as usual, before my trip because it prepared me. The bald head doesn’t make her look sick like I worried it would, but different. She has a very small head that’s in pretty good shape, and I can see the dark outline of hair stubble raise up from her scalp. With makeup and big earrings she looks quite striking. Like maybe someone who is “voluntarily bald.”. In the restaurant, our waiter was half-flirting and seemed genuinely shocked when she told him that she’d was undergoing chemo. I keep thinking about the movie with Zoe Saldana (Avatar) and we both confess to looking up “beautiful bald women” on the Internet. Away from the smoke and mirrors though, she looks much smaller (even without a major weight loss) and more vulnerable than I’ve ever seen her. She complains about how cold her head is but won’t wear a hat or scarf because it feels too “cancer-y” (her word), and her husband prefers her bald head to the wig she bought – (her husband and mine have always strongly preferred natural over anything fake.) Her daughter plays with my hair though, while I’m visiting – running her fingers all through it – over and over again finding comfort in the feel of hair and remembering times with her mommy. I’m remembering my friend “before” too, and missing her with every stroke. Now, I’m not used to hands in my hair, but don’t even think of stopping her daughter – it’s only hair…not that important really, but something we want to control especially when other things seem out of our control. Among the last things I did before leaving for my trip to visit her were to get my son’s haircut and to flat iron my daughter’s hair. The first thing that my “niece” said to me when I arrived . . . “Mommy wants you to do my hair. . .” Crazy!

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bwats
    Nov 18, 2011 @ 15:38:02

    Didn’t know my baby played in her Auntie’s hair! Makes me a little sad! But really makes me happy that she has an Auntie that allows her to play with her hair…to give her unconditional love…who makes her feel safe…


  2. JC Ellis
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 16:17:30

    You are one of the most confident chicks that I know! I’m so glad that you are rocking your new natural look! You are beautiful w/or w/o hair! Beauty is internal, but waaaay too often we let our crowns define beauty for us. India Arie said it best, “I am NOT my hair!” But some days I let my hair run the show. Read my last fb post, I missed church because my hair was a burnt hot mess. Now, I’ll go if it’s a hot mess, but not if it’s a burnt hot mess, and it was clearly a burnt hot mess yesterday! Trust!


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