Had my hair cut Wednesday…and all the chemo curls are gone…and I’m not really sure how I feel about that. I know that I was quite startled last winter when the curls made their presence known; and then firmly established themselves in my life after almost 47 years of mostly straight, very boring hair. Not that I always wanted mostly-straight, very boring hair. Most of those years I prayed for curly hair, trying all the usual ways to go about getting them and none of those ways really working. Curling irons would curl, but didn’t last past the first puff of wind from the front door. Curlers, both hot and the sleep-on kind…ditto. Tried a couple of perms…months of burned, frizzy, not-so-great hair was the result. Except for the one that I splurged on and paid over $150 for way back in the mid-1980s when perms normally cost around $30! So, needless to say, that kind of perm was not going to happen often in my lifetime.
So back to the chemo curl surrender…there is a hint of wave on the ends still, but overall the beautiful, springy, bouncy, wonderful curls are gone. And with them, I am feeling a little less than…me. My youngest son says that his mom has finally returned…after almost over two years of either bald head or buzz-cut head or curly-locks head, his REAL mom has returned. And he is quite amazingly happy.
But I am feeling lost. After the shock of actually having the “much-prayed-for-my-whole-life curls” wore off, I really thoroughly enjoyed having them. They were fun and flirty and oh-so-easy to care for. Wash them (every-so gently, of course–my hair has always been very fine and tender), dry lightly with towel, rub a dab of argan oil on them, fluff with fingers…and go. You really couldn’t get any better than that for a beauty routine. And after the shock wore off, I really did begin to see them as a gift…a fun and constant reminder of God’s love and mercy for His imperfect and somewhat vain child. And they gradually became the physical representation of my new life. New way of eating, new way of exercising, new way of living, new way of looking…and most of all, the best new way of NOT having cancer.
The old body–complete with unruly, not-so-straight-but-never-curly hair–had been tainted with cancer for heaven only knew how long. It was even more imperfect than the “new, improved” model I am now sporting. So, in my mind, the curls went with the cancer-free me. So when I saw my face in the mirror, surrounded by MY old, normal, pre-cancer, pre-chemo hair, I began to face a much deeper, darker thought than I imagined the change in hairstyles could produce. What if cancer returns? What if–like Samson losing his hair and therefore, losing his strength–I lost my curls AND my health? Silly, huh?
Maybe it is silly, but these were the feelings tumbling around my mind and my heart after a simple hair cut Wednesday morning. And for quite a while, the fear managed to hold a firm grasp on me. I allowed the feelings and the fears to swirl and twirl their ugly little tentacles all around my heart…wrapping their life-sucking selves around all the energy and hopes I hide there. Slowly, however, rational, calm thought is finally prevailing. And I am once again remembering that the point is NOT whether or not the cancer returns (with the retreat of the curls or at some other point in time). The point is what I make of the time in between.
The curls were fun. And I will always praise God for the gift that they were while I had them. But now I once again have MY hair, and will try hard to remember to praise Him for the gift of hair…and the return of life. Just being able to breathe, and see, and move, and think, and love is a gift…whether or not there is hair on my head at all. So the added bonus of hair–curly, straight, or somewhere in between–is just a little frosting on the cake. And I will try to remember those days of baldness and misery and thank my Heavenly Father for the end of them…for however long that end will be.