Monday, November 28, 2022

Hair stylist at the Cancer Infusion Station

Lorna of the luxurious brown hair. The first time I saw her. Not a streak of grey in it. I knew it wouldn't last because she's right here in the Cancer Infusion Center waiting room. This is where hair goes to die so the patient can live even if it's a little bit longer. Lorna hasn't yet stopped at my station to talk about styling options or maybe a wig; we have orange and blue ones. Stylin' scarves too, and caps with funny sayings, funny to all of us anyway, women of the lost hair -- yeah me too, and mine grew back curly and seal brown with silver tips. "Kissed by the sun, I said. "Touch of grey" said my husband, a Jerry Garcia fan. "I will get by," the song goes. "I will survive." As the weeks went on I missed seeing Lorna and wondered if she'd given up. She finally came by, hair strands sticking up in a topknot and tied in a bow. Reminded me of Zippy the Pinhead from those days when hair meant everything. Lorna walked by alone, as always. "Like my hair?" She tended it with her right hand, twirled around so I could get a good look. We both laughed. I saw her weeks later, head shiny as a baby's bottom. "Just a comb-through," she said. I held up a bare hand. "Got my comb right here." For the first time, she cast her burden aside and sat in my chair. I massaged her scalp with some feel-good ointment that smells of lavender and vanilla. I feel the ridges of her skull beneath the hairless skin. Cancer started in her breasts -- they've been banished the damn troublemakers. Lorna and I reminisced about the touching that went with them. When done right, it lit us up. My touch on her bald head is one small thing, a tiny pleasure. Small things are what's left when the big things go.

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