My last two years of college, I lived with two of my dear friends, Lisa and Gloria. Fun fact: I actually met Glo for the first time the day I moved in to our apartment. Lisa, who I’d only recently become friends with, assured me I would like her and we would all be friends. She was right. As I sit here now, I look back on those years with some very fond memories, including late night study sessions at Village Inn, long conversations about Jesus, and a certain night in an emergency room after Glo tore her ACL during a basketball game we were all playing in together. While we waited for her to see a doctor, Lisa and I tried to console Glo by putting latex gloves over our heads and blowing them up with our nostrils. Good times.
One of the times that wasn’t so good, was the day I came home after getting a haircut. A bad haircut. It was too short, flat against my head, and simply awful. I walked in to see Lisa and Glo sitting in the living room. Without saying a word, I marched straight to the bedroom I shared with Lisa. I don’t recall them saying anything to me, but I did see the looks on their faces, their mouths gaping and eyes wide. I don’t recall how much time went by before we actually discussed the obvious tragedy that was now my hair, but one of us eventually commented that I looked like a doorknob. It was true. The whole fiaso brings a smile now, but all these years later, I still remember how I felt that day. I was embarrassed and angry, but I also remember I was eventually comforted by a whole lot of laughter as my friends reminded me of two very important things: It’s just hair and it will grow back.
I’m getting my hair cut short today. It’s one more thing I can choose to do. A few weeks from now, I won’t be able to choose what’s happening, but today I can. When that unwelcome day comes, I will likely be embarrassed and angry, and will need to laugh with my friends as they remind me it’s just hair and it will grow back. I am confident when given the opportunity to provide some comic relief, my people are gonna shine.
My hairdresser, Karstin, is an angel and one of the strongest women I know. Just last year, she lost her sister to brain cancer. Her loss is immeasurable and her grief still raw, so I texted her and told her if she’d rather not be the person to walk with me through this particular part of my journey, I would understand. Being the kind, brave, and compassionate soul she is, she agreed to cut my hair. She’s the perfect person for the job.
When I was talking about all this hair business with my younger two kids, who, at 18 and 19 are hardly kids, I was telling them when my hair comes back in, it will be gray. ‘Cause, ya know, while not even a global pandemic can keep me from coloring my hair, there will be no hiding this. I also told them how sometimes, hair comes back in a different texture and I could actually have gray, curly hair when it grows back. My husband, in true “Perry” form, said, “Darn. I was hoping for a blonde.” Nice, honey. The boys thought it was hysterical. “Classic Perry,” they said. Mhmm. Truth be told, I laughed too.
So, one more step, one more new experience, one more potential emotional breakdown, and one more opportunity to choose joy on this road to healing. I’m so thankful for friends and family who love me through these moments. Maybe one of them will console me by putting a latex glove over their head and blowing it up with their nostrils. That would make my day.