Monday, February 20, 2017

It is so much more than "just" hair

The Before
Italicized parts are lyrics to Amy Grant's "Better Than a Hallelujah"

God loves a lullaby
In a mothers tears in the dead the of night
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes
God loves a drunkards cry,
The soldiers plea not to let him die
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes.

The Saturday after chemo and my hair starting to come out, Lex had a Robotics competition; we spent the day sitting in uncomfortable bleachers!  His team did decent, they had not qualified for State during the competitions, but we had been told they would probably qualify for State another way, and they would let us know on Monday. During the competition, Bry-D and I had talked about when to do the shaving. Bry-D realized he wanted to be the one to shave it, and I wanted everyone we knew to be there; Bry-D wanted it to be just us.  I totally understood why he needed/wanted it that way.  He's an introvert, so being alone would give him the strength to get through it.  However, I knew I wasn't going to get through it without lots of support.  We agreed that Sunday night with our immediate families, Small Group, and a couple friends.  Bry-D was freaking out over the number of people I was asking, so not everyone I was intending on inviting got asked.  I still regret that some, but I know the more intimate it was the easier it was for him.  He suggested we go to Sanctuary, so that we would have room for everyone I wanted to invite.  But for me, in order to respect and obey what God is obviously doing with Sanctuary, I can not go back - Sanctuary's building is not our home anymore. So our tiny house was the place, because as he knew, besides Sanctuary, it was the place we'd feel the safest.

Mom's chocolate fountain
While planning, I told people that if they wanted to bring food or drinks, go ahead.  My mother brought her chocolate fountain, because how else were we going to get through this?  We ended up with a wonderful buffet of sugary comfort foods.  There was fruit for chocolate dipping, and one small plate of sandwiches.

We introduced friends and family to each other, talked and ate.  My little sister, The Nurse, came from Georgia as a surprise.  She didn't talk to the Teacher or I that day, but she lied to The Quilter and said she was at work, when in reality, she was in her car driving.  She had told me that she wouldn't be able to make it because of work, but had decided there was no way she couldn't be here for it.

 I am so glad she made it.

And then it was time.

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

We gathered in the garage, The Quilter had her hairstylist equipment, and we got started.
 My Dad prayed, I took a deep breath, and Bry-D got started.
The woman holding on for life,
The dying man giving up the fight
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes
The tears of shame over what's been done,
The silence when the words won't come
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes.

 I kept telling myself that I could do it, I could be bald for a summer.  That I was _going_ to live through this.
 At some point, The Quilter could no longer take Bry-D's shaving, and took over.  She does that.
 I had said that I would need someone holding my hand, and lots of verbal encouragement.  Because of all the people there, encouraging and loving me, I did make it through, as painful as it was.
We took off the cape, and I was done.  Everyone kept earnestly telling me that I looked good.  But I couldn't believe it, how could I look good without my hair?  Then Eliz was standing there.

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a hallelujah.

 I asked Bry-D to hold on to me while I used my phone to look.  I had said when I pulled the first clump of hair out that it hadn't hurt.  But the truth is, it did hurt.  It hurt a lot.  In ways I hadn't known I could feel pain, I felt it Friday, and Sunday night.  Was it vanity? Was it reality sinking in and taking hold?  I'm not sure.

Better than a church a bell ringing,
Better than a choir singing out, sing out.

The Cosplayer saved some of my hair for me.  I'm thinking of making a hair ornament out of it.  Of all the temporary things that are happening because of cancer, this is the 'thing' that may be able to take me down.  My hair has always been my favorite thing, my best attribute, the one feature that always seemed to look good.  And now it's gone, and a part of me is gone with it.  Possibly a chunk of me.  

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah.

 We went into the house to show Lex.  Sweet joy in the midst of sorrow, that's what this boy is.
 Then we brightened the evening with pictures.  All the bald people together.
 Crazy family.  My criteria for a successful family picture is if most everyone is looking at the picture.
Our Small Group

It was a bitter pill to swallow, made easier by the sweet love and encouragement of our huge family.  I asked that Amy Grant's "Better than a Hallelujah" be played while Bry-D shaved my head.  Because I needed to remember that, more than anything, God longs to for us to be real with Him.  Just as we want our spouses, our children, our friends to be real with us, no matter how awful or ugly it is, we want the truth.  We don't want to be held at arms length because what's happening isn't pretty, or doesn't meet expectations, we want real relationships, unhindered by fear of rejection, or judgement.  That's what God wants with us, and we forget that it's okay to be exactly where we are - if we're questioning, if we're angry, if we're betrayed, God is okay with that.  If we're so broken we can't praise Him, it's okay.  He never said life would be easy, He said He'd never leave us.  You can't get to the bright side of the mountain without walking through the darkness - just don't stay there in the shadows.  Get that side under your feet, don't stop walking just because it got dark.  The light is there, the good parts, the joy, so keep picking your feet up, God will set them down, and that's how you'll get through it.  When you can't go any further, you can't take another step, tell God, "I'll pick them up Lord, You put them down."  Of course, for me, there are days when I say, "I can't even get out of bed, Jesus." And He says to me, "You sit up, and I'll do the rest."

Better than a Hallelujah
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes

Choose laughter!


  1. I read this with tears sreaming down my face. What beautiful writing and pictures. Most importantly you are a beautiful woman with a beautiful soul!

  2. I'm so proud of you! Instead of using your stubbornness to get get through this, you are leaning on love! Growth, being made Holy, being transformed into Christ's image. I wish it wasn't this way. I wish there was another way. I'm so proud of how you're walking it though. Peggy, God is in you and His "amazing" is definitely showing through. ��