Who knew there were so many different shades of boring old brown? But this was what I discovered exactly one week after all of my hair began to fall out. I’d never considered what kind of brown my own mess of curls would be labeled, until it was all gone.
Now, each time I reached up absentmindedly to run my fingers through the silky strands that had once tumbled down between my shoulder-blades, tears would gather in the corners of my eyes and I’d quickly find a quiet place, away from my supportive husband and my sweet children, and especially my loving, but over-bearing mother who was staying with us through my recovery. I often claimed snatches of time to mourn the loss of my thick, mahogany locks. I knew that if, Lord-willing, I ever came out on the other side of all of this, I would never again complain about the way my brush tended to fill up with hair in a day or two, and the way I was always cleaning it out. I knew my husband wouldn’t complain about the shower drain getting clogged with the tangles that were now falling out in large clumps, leaving nothing behind but wisps of what had once been my personal crown of glory.
On the day I went to pick out my new head of hair (rather, the best substitute I could find until the real stuff returned), I was amazed at the choices I faced. I said a quick prayer and chose to cling to optimism. I could move up in the world: instead of my plain-Jane muddled-brown, I had the choice of upgrading to a cutting edge espresso, or a high-lighted, sandy color. There were wigs that had cranberry streaks running through, giving the wearer a sort of “punk” persona, as my daughter would say, and still others that came so close to my own color and style, it made me want to cry all over again.
In the end, I decided on the espresso. This would (hopefully) be my only opportunity to go out on a limb and make such a drastic change in my appearance. I thought it might be fun to do something different. And to be honest, I felt like I was side-stepping a possible betrayal.
As silly as it sounded, I wanted my real hair to know that I missed it, that I would mourn its absence until it returned, and that I wanted it to come back quickly. When it made its appearance again, I would welcome it home with excited, fumbling fingers, and the top-of-the-line shampoo I usually thumbed my nose at (because really, who needs to spend so much when a family-sized bottle of Suave gets the job done just as well?). But for the return of my hair, I’d spend the money and spoil us rotten. I missed my hair more than anyone knew.
The sales-woman helped fit the wig snugly to my head, adjusting it to frame my face in a stylish fashion.
I studied myself in the mirror. My expression was….uncertain. I pasted on a smile. There. That was better. Ms. Espresso wasn’t half bad.
I paid for the wig and wore it out of the store, the pink paisley bandana I’d been wearing before, now stuffed in my purse.
As I drove home, I realized how anxious I felt about the reactions of my family. I said another quick prayer and peace replaced my anxiety. It would all be okay.
I parked in the driveway and pulled down the rear-view mirror to make sure my new hair was in place. Taking a deep breath, I got out and strode confidently to the front door.
Upon entering the house, my senses were overwhelmed.
Directly in front of me, a huge banner hung across the living room archway. The words “Bald is Beautiful” were painted with bold, pink strokes. Over a dozen people flanked either side. I felt tears spill over onto my cheeks as I looked around.
Everyone had their own hair tucked into tight, flesh-colored swim caps, except for my husband, and my closest friend, Lizzie, who stood side by side. Neither of them needed a cap; their heads were shaved, truly bald and bare.
I heard myself gasp, and covered my mouth with my hand.
Lizzie came and hugged me close.
In my ear she whispered, “Bald is beautiful, and so are you - no matter what. We love you.”
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