Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Home Group (11/29/07)
TITLE: The Italian Silk Scarf
By Johnna Stein
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I am supposed to lead prayers for small group tonight. How can I go out in public? The wig I reluctantly ordered last week at “Hair All Over” won’t be ready for at least another week. Sally, my small group leader and best friend, readily agreed to accompany me that dreaded day and was ever so patient and gracious. It took me hours to choose the right wig and yet I remain doubtful it will look as natural as they promise.
It’s all too much and once again I am overwhelmed by anger and sadness. I’m a Christian for goodness sakes. Why aren’t I able to cope better? In my old life or before cancer (BC, as I like to call it), I always thought that if I ever got cancer I’d be one of those amazingly brave cosmopolitan women who sport a beautiful bald head or wear high fashion scarves. As I’d watch them confidently walk by, I would admire their seemingly courageous manner in defying this illness.
That’s who I’d hoped to be, but I have failed miserably. I find myself complaining about the never ending nausea and aches and pains that plague me in the darkest hours of the night. I seem to have lost my joy and feel disconnected from most of my friends. They’re sympathetic and regularly offer help, but I don’t want help. I want to be cancer free and go back to my old life.
I want to scream and yell at the top of my lungs until I’m completely spent. I want out of this cancer prison! Sobs rack my whole body; my grief and frustration pour out and I feel broken and empty inside. I’m drained from my emotional outburst and the constant lack of sleep. Oh God, why is this happening to me? I crawl on the couch hoping to fall into dreamless sleep.
The shrill ring of the phone startles me and I automatically reach for it. Number recognition reveals that Sally is calling. She immediately detects sadness in my voice.
“Don’t say a word, Ginger. I’m coming over.”
I feel panicked; she can’t see me like this.
“ No. Sally, you don’t understand. Today it’s not just the nausea. All my hair fell out. I’m completely bald. I can’t go to small group tonight like this. I never thought I’d really need that ridiculous wig we ordered and now it’s not even ready.”
Sally always has a plan “B”. “Ginger, I have a beautiful Italian scarf that would look terrific on you. I can bring it by and I don’t even have to come inside. I can discreetly ring your doorbell and hang it in a bag on your doorknob.”
“Sally, thanks, but I’m just not up to seeing everyone at small group tonight.” I try to sound appreciative.
“Ginger, you may not realize how deeply our group cares and how often you are lifted in prayer by us. We truly love you for who you are on the inside. I know you must be feeling incredibly self-conscious and embarrassed, but the scarf will look gorgeous on you. Please, please, say you’ll come. You always say how attending small group gives you a boost each week.”
Sally knows me so well and she has a point. She’s wearing me down. “O.K. bring the scarf by and I’ll think about it.”
Sally responds optimistically, “That’s my girl. See you tonight.”
Later, I tentatively don the silky scarf she dropped off and I’m pleasantly surprised each time I glance in the mirror; it really suits me. I decide I definitely need a boost and carefully apply my make-up for tonight’s meeting.
As I nervously enter Sally’s living room, I burst into laughter at my small group’s unusual demonstration of humor and unity. Each and every one, including the men and even eighty year old Dot, are sporting beautiful Italian silk scarves on their heads.
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