Thursday, August 7, 2014


I'm losing my hair.
A big fistful every time I wash it, and a bunch more in between.
It's been happening for a while, but I wasn't ready to admit that it was one of my symptoms... or maybe I just wasn't sure. But I'm sure now-- and at this rate, even though I have (thankfully) a lot to lose, it's not going to take very long before it's gone.

And I am also sure that I will be just fine if I lose my hair-- that I will probably end up a stronger, deeper, more centered person. I'm sure that you, my friends, will still love me, with or without hair. And I'm sure that this mysterious, undiagnosed illness is going to pay severely, because now it's personal.

This is the part of the movie where the character clicks into hero mode. This is the training-for-the-fight-scene climactic montage, with the uplifting soundtrack blaring Eye of the Tiger. Watch out, I'm a lot tougher than I look. Here comes an epic battle.

...At least that's what I tell myself, lying in bed. It's what I tell myself standing on the bath mat, wrapped in a towel, looking down at another clump of my hair in my hands. The truth is that I haven't brushed my hair in days, in the hopes that I can keep it attached to my head as long as possible.

Honestly, I'm scared. Losing my hair doesn't actually make me any more sick or less capable than I already have been for the last eight months-- but it some how makes it all feel so much more real, so much more serious. I've kept this idea in the back of my head that one of these days I will wander into the right doctor's office and I will get a diagnosis and a cure, and bam: within a few weeks, I'll be better. But maybe not.

As much as I would love for there to be a "fight scene" in this story-- a moment where it all gets serious and I buckle down and kick this thing, there is no way to fight when I don't know what I'm fighting. And I don't think I am supposed to be fighting right now, anyway.

Over the summer, Nolan has been taking swim lessons. It always cracks me up when the instructor has him try to float on his back-- his shoulders pinned to this ears, his face all scrunched up in concentration, every muscle in his body tense, trying to float.

But floating doesn't work that way. The funny thing is that as relaxing and peaceful as floating in water sounds, it's actually a lot of work, and it's completely counter-intuitive. If you just go limp, you sink. If you stiffen up too much, you sink. There's kind of an art to it, and it's really hard to explain to someone, but after a while, the instructor starts to let go little by little, and you hold your torso up, relax your limbs, and just... float.

There have been many times lately where I have been laying in bed resting, thinking about what it will be like to lose all my hair, what it would be like to be sick like this for the rest of my life, what it would be like if that was just the beginning, and I continued to get worse... The longer I lay there, the more these thoughts creep into my muscles, into my jaws, into my shoulders, until I start to sink. Every couple of minutes I catch myself, shake it off, release the tension that has gathered in my body and in my mind and try to lift myself up again. "The Lord is my shepherd..." I begin to recite as I take deep breaths and settle in again to the truth that I am not alone.

I don't have a lot of deep, insightful spiritual moments lately. For the most part, when I feel well enough, I am up trying to spend time with my kiddos or catch up on some important thing (like eating) that I have missed; and when I'm not well, my eyes and mind are too foggy to really focus on much. But recently I have had this quiet sense that my Creator is with me, and that He is very good. Simple as that. No promises that it will be alright, no understanding of what to do next-- just the knowledge that He is here.

As simple as it sounds, it takes work. It takes work to let go of the thoughts and fears of what-if, or the worries of all the things that are suspended in mid-air, left undone and neglected.  There is a conscious effort in remembering the moments when God was there throughout the day-- when Jack buried his face in my neck and rested on my shoulder, arms burrowed in, or I caught Chris' eye and saw that he was with me. Releasing the things that cause me to sink, and centering myself on that sense of Presence.

 I confess that I had a good cry this morning after showering and throwing away another frighteningly large handful of hair. And it felt good and honest to cry it out a bit-- to just be scared and to admit it. And there were times today when I was so exhausted and irritable, my legs buckling under me and my mind unable to focus, that I indulged myself in some mopey, martyred thoughts. But then, once I finally stopped and unclenched my jaw and released my shoulders, I found equilibrium again. He was there, and I was alive, full of life, floating.


Sam said...

I'm so sorry to read about your sickness, Christine. Losing your hair must be so tough, it's like when Jo decided to sell her hair in Little Women... external beauty can be very significant and sentimental! Praying for you.

Anonymous said...

I find you to be full of grace, strength joy. Having been in the position of losing hair (not even being sick), I know what a horrible feeling that is. Please know SO many of us are praying for you every day!

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