Here’s the history on how I lost my hair. It wasn’t remotely gradual and we didn’t have a whimsical, symbolic “shave your head” party like I read about other cancer patients doing. First of all, as you know, I have (had) a LOT of hair. I always assumed I would be 90 yrs old and still shaving my legs, waxing, and braiding my full head of hair. Well, the week I was in ICU, my giant head of hair morphed into one giant dreadlock. When I awoke and finally addressed what to do with the rat’s nest on my head, it was already too late. We even poured an entire bottle of conditioner on it and let it sit all night to see if we could possible comb through it. When my dear friend, Tracy, came to help “cut” my hair the next day, it was clear that combing was not an option. We went straight to shaving my head bald.
So, some comments on being bald: Emma thinks my head is “cute” and is not freaked out at all by my baldness. Blake encourages a variety of wigs just for, well, variety. 🙂 I have to admit that I don’t miss doing my hair: at all. It cuts out about 40 minutes of minutia, although putting my eyelashes on takes me about that long since I glue my eyes shut a few times before I get it right, so it’s sort of a wash.
I used to have “bad hair days”. Now, I have “hair” or “no hair” days. Yesterday I chose a “no hair” day because I wanted to test my observations so I could write this entry. Here’s is what has been confirmed: People are nicer to me when I don’t wear hair. Yep. I started noticing this one day when a store clerk was being especially helpful and pleasant ( sadly, I became suspicious). Then it hit me-I had on a scarf and no hair. Instead of the casual checkout and an obligatory, “have a good day” as I walk away, people stop short of grabbing my face in their hands, looking me in the eye, and saying “YOU have GREAT day” ( possibly wiping a tear from their eye). I am not complaining at all, mind you. It’s lovely to be treated this way. But I am sure you are way ahead of me on this: What would our world be like if we treated everyone like they have cancer? Like they are “sick” rather than just annoying? What if we gave people the benefit of the doubt when they are cranky or short-tempered or down right mean? A principal of faith and one that has been reiterated to me in recovery is one that helps me gain a better approach to people around me: I realized that people…” were perhaps SPIRITUALLY SICK. Though we didn’t like their symptoms and the way these disturbed us, they, LIKE OURSELVES, were sick too. We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience we would cheerfully grant a sick friend. When a person offended we said to ourselves, ‘This is a sick person. How can I be helpful to them? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done.'”
Reminding myself of this causes me to consider that even if someone is not walking around bald, with their illness advertised for all to see, that most people are suffering from many other ailments and are acting the way they do as a result of those. We can’t SEE the fear in his heart, we just think things like, “what’s that jerks’ problem!?”. We don’t SEE the emotional anguish, we just think, “why is she always so bitter and negative?”. We can’t SEE the deep hurt and betrayal, we just think, “boy, he’s a drag to be around. Such a downer.” We don’t SEE the insecurity that haunts her, we just think, “well, doesn’t she think she’s ALL THAT!?”.
We have all got our demons. Our wounds. Our baggage. We are all SPIRITUALLY SICK. When I remember this, God softens my heart and fills it with compassion…replacing judgment. Helping me see others with HIS grace and forgiveness and mercy. Treating them like they had “no hair”.