“You will cry.” My ten-year old daughter Annie said to me. At forty-three and recently diagnosed with breast cancer I was undergoing chemotherapy and losing my hair was inevitable. As I stood in the shower that morning it started coming out in large clumps. I watched the brown globs swirl over my feet and down the drain. I rinsed and rinsed but the hair kept filling my hands.
“I’m going with you” Annie said to me. “You can’t be alone when you get your head shaved” said my other daughter Kiki. She had only recently turned thirteen. I looked across the kitchen table at the two of them and hesitated. Don’t you want to go to gymnastics I asked? “No, you will cry, we need to be there with you.” I thought to myself, will I? Will I? I didn’t feel like crying, but to be honest, I wasn’t really feeling much at all, just kind of numb. I looked at them. “Fine, come with me then” and with one phone call we were off to the hairdresser.
I arrived at the door, my two daughters trailing behind me. Tammy looked at me with dismay. “What’s wrong I asked?” “You all can’t possibly fit in the backroom,” she said. “ Backroom? “ “Yes, in case you cry” she said. “That’s OK,” I replied. “I’ll sit out here in your regular chair.”
Tammy got out the electric razor and began to shave. I felt hair falling on my shoulders. Kiki looked at me and said “Mom you look just like Demi Moore in GI Jane.” In my dreams, I thought to myself. I looked at her and saw love in her beautiful eyes. My daughters rubbed my arms and smiled.
After Tammy finished Annie, Kiki and I drove over to the wig salon. I climbed into another chair that was out in the open, no back room for me. The girls decided exactly how the wig should be cut and stood there as it was trimmed to fit my face. Finally we went to lunch. Instead of tears of sorrow, it seemed like laughter and love were on that menu.
I learned a lesson that day. Something I stumbled onto by following my daughters’ lead. Instead of just losing my hair, I gained a wonderful memory. Instead of coming home and having to show my newly shorn head to my family, we journeyed there together. By loving me and joining me, my daughters helped me turn pain and despair into joy and hope. I can honestly say the day that I got my head shaved was a wonderful one.
Since that day my hair has grown back. I still have the wig underneath my bathroom sink. “You will cry,” my daughter said. Yes, I have cried a lot, but mostly they are tears of joy. We can all reach out a hand and support one another. This I believe gives us the strength to face our fears together.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.