It’s harvesting time; my hair is starting to fall out more and more.
It started to on Monday, but now the harvest is ripe as I swipe my brush over my hair and clumps of it are now in my brush. It is my winnowing fork, my scythe.
It’s an odd feeling. Touch your hair, and it just comes out, clinging and wrapping itself around your fingers. And the hairs that are coming out try to attach themselves to the remaining, stubborn hair. Fallen hairs weave themselves to attached hair folicles, as if they doesn’t want to leave their home. And the woven, fallen hair creates these bundles, these small masses of matted hair that must indeed come out and sometimes shock you even more than just the loose strands that rain down your back and onto your pillow, your shirt, your shoulder.
Here and now is where I start to feel like a real cancer patient. Because now I am going to start to “look” like one: the most distinguishable characteristic and publicized for cancer patients is that we are bald. (Which is so weird and odd and why on earth does chemotherapy make you lose your hair? Why is that its stamp on the body?)
Right now, I am feeling so great and like myself and yet my body is still crumbling underneath me it seems. How can I feel this way and yet clearly something is off as I brush my hair and tons of it comes out? Such a paradox it seems to me.
Now I can no longer be a secret, undercover cancer patient. Right now, I look “normal,” healthy as I walk around Target, put gas in my car, get Starbucks coffee. I am the same as you. We are healthy. We are normal. We are living. But now I won’t be able to disguise myself within the course of life. A bald woman is different, and not only that, its once again the signal, the characteristic of a cancer patient.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe and love and in gratitude for just how much bald women and men are promoted and supported by commercials, slogans, advertisements and all sorts of media for the James and the American Cancer Society and the like. But it does unveil a great deal of who I am now and what I am going through to others, to strangers, and all they have to do is just look at me.
But now, as I am thinking about it and the Spirit is talking to me, we are all so self-deceived.
Retrace, recall this moment I told you earlier:
Right now, I look “normal,” healthy as I walk around Target, put gas in my car, get Starbucks coffee. I am the same as you. We are healthy. We are normal. We are living. But now I won’t be able to disguise myself within the course of life. A bald woman is different…
Oh self-deception. If I’m worried now that strangers are going to know what is going in my life by just looking at me and knowing from my bald head that I have cancer? And the thing is, they could know about my life, my story if I told them even with my full head of hair. And I’m looking at them, comparing themselves to me, and me to them and I merely think that they are fine and healthy and living normal lives by their appearance in comparison to mine. Oh falsehood! How bold and daring of me to think that (of all people!) I have no idea what the lady who is picking up apples at Kroger across from me is going through. Has she recently lost her job? Is her mother dying? Or what about the girls across from me in the fitting room? Is one of them struggling with depression and deep doubts? From my porch, the man walking past me, does he have a porch, a home to go to? My life situation might be more “outwardly” seen, and then again I think I’m overthinking my own life too much for others to even notice. They might not have a “stamp” like my coming baldness, a marker of their life situation and outwardly may look “normal,” but inwardly the heart and mind and soul have so much more to undergo that I may never know about unless I ask.
Oh soul, how I need more compassion for others and prayer to see how God sees His people around me. Maybe and perhaps my coming baldness is a gift in this way. Give me sight, sight.
As I am continuing to harvest myself, my hair, I look down in my hands and lap and am amazed. There is so much there that was once a part of me that is now not but still much on my head and part of me still for a brief moment.
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
I can’t believe those are all numbered and had a specific, unique placement to begin with. And they are so vast in number I am realizing! Look down and see in my hands. The Lord intricately placed the hairs on my head, all the while knowing they would come out one, two, three times. Yet with each stitch of hair, He knows why and how he is using all of this.
I asked my friends to cut my hair last night out of annoyance and aggravation of my hair falling out. It almost felt like a public shearing, but there are no other people I wouldn’t have to be around me to share in this moment. They make me laugh, make me see outside of myself always, cutting and shaping my hair to look like Miley Cyrus and sporting a mohawk (which is the only time that will ever happen! ha!) Oh dear friends, thank you, thank you. You are always my true medicine and bring me so much joy throughout this all. My brothers, my sisters.
So come coming baldness with great insight and sight for compassion and understanding for others around me, just like I know others will do the same for me as they gaze on my head-shape. And let the hair harvest come fully from this autumn to chemo winter.