Saturday, September 21, 2013

In the aura of community

“Love is the very difficult understanding that something other than yourself is real.” Iris Murdoch

Inside a little house on Sept. 20 a group of women met.
There was food and cucumber water.
There was a roll-y white chair and a lamp for lighting.
She sat down and shared with us: LOVE WINS.
And she took off her hat.
There was a documentarian and cameras rolling.
A horseshoe-shaped cluster of women enveloped her.
There was music playing: “You Make Beautiful Things.”
And there were voices joining in.
There were stories swirling around, and then the sound of clippers.
There were tears.
And smiles through the tears.
Pieces of hair fell freely to the floor, passing first through the loving fingers of the woman who cut it away.
There was laughter and silence and singing.
There were fist pumps, outstretched arms, cheers.
There were hugs, and head kissing.
There was rain.

This morning I’m rubbing my own near-bald head. I’ve been trying to come up with the words to introduce it to you, my friends.

I wanted to do this three weeks ago, but I wasn’t ready, so I didn’t do it.

My hair was long and I loved it that way. About two months ago, I had it trimmed. “Please take only enough for it to be healthy, but long.” Natalie cut barely four inches.

From the first day we received word of Brooke’s diagnosis, I knew that if she ever lost her hair, I would lose mine too. When that chapter of her journey began, I cut my hair off and donated 11 inches to Locks of Love.

A quiet inspiration spread from friend-to-friend. There was never fanfare, and every woman has her own story of why, how, when. Last night, conversations started based on, “Nicole, tell me your journey of how you came to make this choice,” and her story was powerful and unique. And then Sheree shared her jewel story. And Lynn and Annabelle.

Inspiration upon inspiration has built. When I look at my friends and their bald heads, I see pure, authentic beauty. I see bright eyes filled with peace, and I see confidence. My rough calculations indicate more than 50 inches of hair has been donated to Locks of Love.

I went to that little house last night in joyful anticipation. Lynn wanted to cut hers a little shorter, and so when the house started emptying and most everyone had changed into their comfy clothes, Lynn and I disappeared into the bathroom with Sheree and Natalie.

Sheree shaved my head. It was inspiration come full circle. She says my hair cut three weeks ago gave her confidence, and her willingness to follow her heart gave me confirmation of the nudge I’d been feeling. We laughed a lot and said things like, “You have a good-shaped head,” and “Your head is so soft, I just want to pet it all the time,” and “LOOK AT MY GORILLA-TUFT!”

About six months ago, a group of men and women met in that same little house.
Nicole. Brooke. Me. Lynn’s husband. Sheree’s husband. Nicole’s fiancé.

We were going to Haiti together.
We talked.

I was impacted by their stories of why, how, when.

A lot of life has happened in the six months between then and now. The walls could tell you.
Bad news.
Good news.

But somewhere in all the chaos of life, beautiful things are being made.
The walls could tell you that, too.

1 comment:

Ashley Atkins said...

Thank you for sharing this about our Brooke's journey. This made me teary. I so wish I could be there and walk this with her. I'm so grateful though for you and for her friends there in Texas. I grew up with Brooke (middle and highschool) and have always loved her spirit. The hope and love you all give her daily warms my heart.

Thank you for doing what those of us in Va can not.

It blesses us seeing all yalls love in action!

Many thanks,
Your sister in Christ!