Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Hairy Situations

A hairdo from January. That her sister gave her. Before the great hair exodus.

Chances are, if I’ve seen or talked to you in the last month, if you are a friend, I’ve probably talked to you about Meres’ hair.

You guys…her poor head!

One of the possible side effects of her chemo was that her hair would thin, but that she probably wouldn’t go bald. Which technically happened. Every month towards week three of the cycle, she lost hair. After each of the last two chemo treatments she lost a ton of hair. By a ton of hair I mean, she has three tuffs of her original hair. Everything else has fallen out, and is beginning to regrow. Most of her head is currently covered with new growth, ranging from 1/4” to 1/2”.

Except for those ridiculous three clumps.

So, if you squint, from the front she looks pretty normal. A cute bob, with lots of super short new hair throughout.

The back though….it’s a disaster. It is a swath of short new hair (picture a baby’s head), with two Bozo the clown tuffs sticking out on the sides.

It looks awful.

Thankfully, she can’t see the back, and regardless, she doesn’t really care. She is very matter of fact about how chemo made her hair fall out.

But, it really bothers me.

Seeing her head makes me want to cry. It has been heavy on my heart. And so I’d talk to people about it. And the reaction I kept getting was that it will grow back.

And it is. And I know that.

Here’s the thing…Meres is beautiful-with or without hair. And her personality makes up for any ridiculous hair. It really does. She is beautiful and vivacious, inside and out. And I love her, with or without hair.

So why is this temporary, shallow thing bothering me?

It’s because it’s her HAIR.

And if you are a woman, you can imagine what that means. We spend so much of our lives fooling with our coifs. Curling, straightening, washing, perming, coloring, cutting, styling, nourishing. Maintaining our hair is a costly endeavor-of both time and money.

Meres lost her glorious, long, blonde, curly hair.

And I’m mourning that loss. (Literally. I’m sitting in Panera Bread writing this post and crying.)

That’s why I keep talking about it.


It wasn’t until this past Sunday that someone choked up with me about her hair. At that moment I felt like someone finally understood how hard this was for me as a mom to watch. I (maybe selfishly) had been looking for empathy, not a reminder of the obvious. I have two eyes. I can see the hair is growing back. The issue is already being fixed.

In the scheme of things, temporary hair loss is very minor. But it was just.another.thing. in all the awful things we’ve been through this past year.

And I’ve been mourning.

The loss of her beautiful hair. The loss of her beautiful eye. The pokes, and the poisons. The long days and the sense of helplessness.

I wish it was my hair that had fallen out. (though the ratio of salt to pepper has definitely increased on my head this year…)

I wish I could have had the cancer instead of her.

I wish I was the one with a glass eye.

I wish I could have went through the pokes and the chemo for her. The sedations and the surgeries.

Here we are at the almost end. Chemo done. Three clear MRIs. Port removed. Things look really good. Check ups every three months or so.

I feel at peace that everything is going to be alright.

We are moving on from just surviving and coping. I finally have time to breathe and that time is also allowing me room to think and to mourn and to process. Part of that process is acknowledging both the profound and simple layers of losses. Past, present and future losses.

Her hair will grow back. It might be the glorious blond mane of the past. Most likely it will be different. Hair is a temporary loss.

There are more permanent losses. We won’t ever get back this time, this year, this eye, these lives untouched by cancer. Permanent losses. Permanent changes.

That is why I need to mourn the hair. Because it’s not just the hair. 

Weep with those who weep. Then rejoice with those who rejoice.

Jesus wept with his friends when death touched their lives. He wept even though he knew that he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead in just minutes. My friend empathized first, before rejoicing in the new hair.

I want my heart to be soft enough to weep with those who weep. I want to be known for empathy, not problem solving.

It’s what Jesus did. How can I do less?