After our hair donations yesterday, I tried to figure out how to write about it. I knew that to some, it would sound weird, no matter what, so after a lot of revisions, I’m simply writing it as a letter to our best friend, P.G. Holyfield. We lost him last August to a horrifyingly fast-growing and hidden cancer. I’ve probably written it poorly and with bad punctuation or pronouns, but I don’t have time to take another pass.
Chooch and I found it to be complete and total bullshit that you were diagnosed with cancer and were going to lose your gorgeous hair to chemo. The only form of rebellion against it was to join you in baldness. How better to show you that we all needed you to fight? That you were worthy of the love and respect that you ended up showered with by family, friends, coworkers, peers and fans.
So, surprise, P.G., we decided to shave our heads whenever you were ready to shave yours. We decided it even before you had your first chemo treatment and were due another one on Friday, our arrival date. And, as only he can, Chooch even thought up a way that was pretty cool to do it.
It was going to be easy, really, since we already had the plan for me to be your goofy, pig-tailed chemo buddy, so Kim could still work and none of us would worry over you by yourself at home. We’d simply planned for me to be disabled in Charlotte instead of Ashburn. At the very least, I would be with you and would know when your hair started to fall out and when we’d offer our solidarity.
As an aside, I delighted in the chance to be truly useful for the first time in five years. My inability to work meant I could give you companionship. You were still so strong that we just knew you wouldn’t need physical help, so it was fine that I couldn’t provide it. I’d just someone in the house, in case you suddenly didn’t feel well.
And while we thought it too soon for you to want to shave your gorgeous hair, we wanted to be ready for whenever it you chose to shave it. By us doing it too, we hoped to take the sadness and empower you with it. Clippers and a wig awaited us in my suitcase during those days as we altered our drive from Charlotte to Durham, to meet you where you were getting a second opinion.
I can’t even remember if it was Chooch or I who first brought up shaving our heads with you. But, as was so true with all four of us, the question was answered before it was asked. To hell with vanity, we needed you to know how much we wanted you to fight and that we were committed to your fight, too. Roomies for Life, and all that. And since you’d always complimented our hair and the length, and with yours getting long enough that you were becoming pleased with it, it was the obvious rallying point for us in the days approaching what ended up being our last drive to visit you and Kim.
We quickly decided not to bring it up, because, who the hell cared after the second opinion? Shaving it then would have just taken us time away from you and possibly upset you. And there were so many more important things to say and do for you and your family and friends.
I kept my hair in pigtails 5 or so days instead, at your side with wonderful people that love you so much. Thanks again for letting us be there with you and them. Peace would be much more difficult to find without knowing just how overwhelmingly smothered in love you were during your last days.
We decided to wait to shave our heads until after your memorial service, 2 months later. It just seemed not to have been cool to do. And those months packed a punch with serious grief processing over my Mom’s death years before, while two other of our family members were/had been battling cancer. Putting it off was fine, because it just meant our donations were growing longer.
The wig stayed in my suitcase through October. I liked having it close, back then. It was a tangible representation of what we would have done for you, all the while praying our plans might turn sadness into laughter.
The wig was a cartoon-y blue, because it’s Chooch’s favorite color and I thought it was yours, too. But I’d only need it if you let us shave it. You’d have had veto power, natch. I worried my bald and ginormous pumpkin head might be upsetting, so I quickly ordered it.
But now, winter hits hard enough to make my hands and other joints more and more miserable. Caring for my long thick hair became more and more problematic. Chooch and I were sure we still wanted cut our hair, but as a donation instead.
We started debating bald vs. short styles and ones that would give the most length to the charity we chose. I feared that shaving bald would just make me sad, as a constant reminder of your loss. Chooch was on the fence and considering shaving down to bald to honor you as we initially planned. He understood that I couldn’t go there because I already fear my reflection because of the resemblance to my Mom and I didn’t want a bald headed reminder of her during her cancer battles every time I looked in the mirror.
And truthfully, we didn’t think a hair cut was a big deal, especially since I’d already been plotting a cut similar to J.R. Blackwell’s after Balticon last year to ease the burden of styling my hair, which you agreed was brilliant. And, as Nutty mentioned, the first few years of Chooch and I going to Balticon were years we had short hair.
In our growing excitement, we shared our plans with various friends and family. They were not very well received and nearly every person seemed to advise against it. We decided to wait a little longer so that folks that love you or love us would know it wasn’t spontaneous or a crazed expression of grief. It’s just a hair donation and it’s done a lot. In fact, there was literally one being done by another stylist in the salon at the same time we were doing ours.
We’ve been looking forward to doing it for 6 or 7 months now, considered tons of hairstyles and off we went to our one and only stylist, Bree, at Rain in Ashburn, VA. It was nothing to donate my hair to the charity in your name, P.G., other than an honor.
You made the length of my hair so immediately meaningless, compared to all that you faced as well as how your loss cut so many so deeply. The shearing brought us much joy, and I think, to Bree as well, as we’ve been discussing a shorter cut for years. She really enjoyed that we insisted that only she could do the transformation for us, especially since she’d been hearing our tales before and after returning from our shenanigans.
So, as another winter storm bore down on us and with our grandson approximately 42 days away from arriving, we drove around three hours to keep our scheduled appointment. You know us and our love of road trips. And I decided that if our friends know us, they’ll trust us. The crazy lady time passed awhile ago. I am fine. Chooch is fine. We are fine.
Thank you for inspiring me to cut the hair that hurts too much to maintain, in spite of how many compliments I got or the threats I’d get when I’d talk about cutting it off. Jokingly, of course, but there was some pressure, too.
Lookit, our grandson, Codename: Little Bear, arrives soon and I’d rather snuggle with him instead of wrangling all that hair. Besides, it’s only a haircut, which is only one drop in an ocean of tiny kindnesses we all grant in this world. And I vowed to pay it forward every chance I’m able.
I will miss you, always. Know that this one remains grateful for the friendship that healed so many broken things in me.
Pix to prove it happened. More to come when there’s time for styling, we were literally racing a snowstorm and this was a recovery day.