I drove home wearing one of my new wigs. It felt a little unnatural, but not uncomfortable. I kept touching it to check to make sure it didn’t slip. (It didn’t. Darn things are pretty secure.)
Walking into the house, B had lunch on the table for the kids. “I like your hair, mommy,” said Lauren. B’s oldest daughter echoed the sentiment with a comment about how she liked it “with no curls.” Ethan was not as enthused.
“Oh, mommy, take it off!” he shouted.
“Well… You might not like that either,” I said and explained that I had my hair shaved.
“I can’t even look at you!” he said loudly.
The three girls, however, were excited about the wigs. After lunch, I tried on the other wig (aka, “The French Assassin”) to more praise. “You have bangs like me, mommy! We are twins!” said Lauren.
I asked if they wanted to see my head without a wig. “Yeah!”
I removed the wig. “I like it,” said Lauren, then she ran off to play.
B’s youngest daughter, however, was not amused. She started crying and ran to her dad to be picked up. She was afraid of me. She stopped crying when I put on a scarf. (She was better the next day about seeing me without hair.)
I tried on scarves and turbans throughout the day. But I was most comfortable with nothing on my head.
That night, Ethan came into my room before he went to bed. I asked him to sit next to me on my bed. “Hold my hand,” I said. “You need to be able to look at me.”
I explained this was temporary. My hair would grow back. The fact that it was going to fall out meant the chemo was working. I told him he couldn’t NOT look at me between now and summer. Slowly, he turned his head and looked at me. We made a few jokes about it, and he relaxed. He still wouldn’t touch it (unlike Lauren who still wants to rub my stubbly head all the time), but he could look at me.
I called my mom when I was driving to the salon and told her I was probably going to shave my head that morning. I called her again after it was over. I didn’t know until the next day that she was really emotional about my hair. She apparently cried all day about the loss.
When she came over on Sunday, however, she was better. I had a hat on, and I asked if she was ready before I took it off. “OK…” she hesitated.
“Oh my God!” she said. “You look so cute! You look like your dad!”
“Like grandpa, but more femin-in-in-ized,” said Ethan from the other room.
Once she saw me, she was okay, hair or no.
I think I handled the hair-thing pretty well. It was fun to touch the stubble left on my head. It was fun trying on the scarves and wigs and turbans I bought a few weeks ago. But after the kids were in bed, and B and I were sitting in the living room having a glass of wine, I started to tear up. I was okay with the cutting of my hair, but tears just wanted to fall. Not crying, just tears leaving my face. I wasn’t sad; I knew I as in control. It was my decision to cut and not wait for it to fall out. I couldn’t even articulate why I was teary. I think the emotions of the day just caught up and exploded (a tear explosion!). I was fine about 10 minutes later.
On Sunday, Lauren climbed onto my lap and rubbed my head. She leaned down to kiss the top of her head and pulled away, complaining about the stubble against her lips. Then she held my head in her hands and said, “Mommy, I love your body. I love your new hair. It’s fun.”
This is a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing!
Yeah, Lauren! (I kind of want to rub your head…) And you definitely ARE your father’s daughter — he’s with you in spirit!