I'm losing my hair.
A big fistful every time I wash it, and a bunch more in between.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.