There have been times in my life that I am not sure I actually had the strength to get through. But somehow I did, because God was with me. I hope the energy of that triumph goes out to anyone who needs it in this very moment…… We are all much stronger than we know.
I stood in the downstairs bathroom in sweat pants and fuzzy slipper socks. There you stood beside me as we looked in the huge mirror at each other. Our eyes locked with recognition and love although a bit restrained, controlled …for there lurking in the shadows was fear. Or maybe sheer terror it was hard to discern because we both couldn’t go there. Fear of the unknown of what was really to come was in the room with us. It was there behind the bravado, behind the “everything is gonna be fines”. The fear wasn’t so thick you could smell it, it wasn’t so intense that your heart raced no… it was more like something darting in the shadows of our hearts. We couldn’t take it out to look at it, it was just too much to bear. We had to keep it locked up and never let it rear it’s ugly head or it would consume us and be our undoing. We never spoke of it. But as our eyes locked over the bathroom mirror we silently acknowledged it and said nothing. We both knew there were no words.
”Over the years those glances had come so often in the silence of our connection. Across crowded rooms, alone at home, during amazing experiences and during challenges..in love, in strength, in need, and in want. We always both knew the other thoughts that were the way of it with us.
So close. And so here we stood together in this place. In silence.
We had made a pact to get up everyday and do “whatever it takes” one day at a time. The words were whispered to each other every morning before we rose out of bed. As our lips brushed against one another’s, the words mingled in our breath. The mantra that would see us through whatever this was, bound us as strongly as the gold cloth and hand fasting ceremony the priest did on our wedding day. And so it was today. The day before your admission to the hospital for brain tumor surgery. The day you asked me to shave your head.
It was no easy task for me. The fear in my heart grew more intense with each swipe of the razor. I felt my heart break as your thick brown hair started to fall in chunks on to the towel I had placed on the floor. The hair I loved to grab at the nape of your neck when I kiss you was no longer attached to you. How I love to tug on those locks and know its you my handsome husband Mark.
Your demeanor was lighthearted, joking as you said “Just shave it all off, babe”. My heart broke more as I watched “my Mark” become a strange looking fellow in the mirror. Your eyes were so big and features strange. Finally I was done. I could barely breath I was so sad. I bravely, stoically looked up as I set the razor on the counter and our eyes locked once again as we silently took strength from each other. I knew I had to show strength for you.
I looked down at my slipper socks and all the hair from your head had attached to them. They were covered with ‘thick brown fur’.
“Look at my feet Mark, I have bear claws” , I cried and started to growl and pretend I was a bear , prancing around. We laughed and horse played forgetting ourselves, lost in the moment. So close. So “us”. And then our laughter faded and the wall was back as you left me to clean up the bathroom.
”Fear is a potent separator. Fear is also a common enemy that can bind two souls together.
I bent to sweep your hair off the floor and I felt myself begin to grieve. Not for you, but for me. Somehow I knew deep down you would be OK. You always were. But I grieved for a part of myself I know is lost forever. My innocence. A belief that things like this could never happen is gone. I will never believe like that again. I now know the improbable is possible. Bad things happen to good people and you can’t protect yourself from things your afraid of because they ..DO HAPPEN.
I kneel on the floor and feel some of your cut hair in my palm and I am changed forever by today. I think about keeping a chunk of your hair in case I lose you on the operating table tomorrow and never feel your warmth again. The tears start to fall then but I wipe them away with steely determination lest you see me cry. My pain can’t be as great as your fear even though you refuse to show it. And so I resolve to be and do whatever you need. I sweep up the hair and throw it all in the garbage bag. It’s only hair I realize. You are still Mark without it. I realize I am starting to see things with a different clarity. Somehow I see deeper. I am beginning to look at things internally. The externals don’t matter.
It’s not about the boat and the car and the houses and the work schedule and how it will all work out and fit together and who does this and who says that and getting here and going there. It’s about the hearts that beat in our chest and what is in them. I don’t need your stupid hair I need your heart.
I pass through the kitchen to take out the garbage and you are sitting at the table. You look up bald head, sharper features , you give me a weak smile and our eyes lock again. It’s the same eyes, same Mark, same connection but inside a different me. Yup , it’s only hair I think as I take out the trash bag full of your brown locks….
repeating the mantra in my mind…..Whatever it takes….