My friend with cancer had her second chemo treatment on Tuesday. As was predicted by those treating her, her hair started falling out with a vengeance on Monday. She texted to say that she had decided to have her head shaved. She texted a few hours later and I assumed she had gone through with it. I sent a few texts to make sure she was all right.
This morning was confusing. Her daughter came over to play with my girls, but said that she wasn’t allowed to come inside. The girls entertained themselves outside for hours. My friend’s husband texted in the afternoon to say that he had shaved my friend’s head, which left me confused. Then he texted and asked if I could send their daughter home in a bit. I told him that I was making the girls a snack and that I would send her home when they were done.
Within ten minutes, he was in my driveway urging his daughter home and left without speaking to me. He told Sugar and Spice that I should text him about dinner. I was confused, thinking I misunderstood that she shaved her head earlier in the week and that he perhaps wanted his daughter home immediately and I kept her too long.
Because my friend had been so strong all along, it never occurred to me that things might have been hellish in their house this morning. Everything came to light when I got to their house later that afternoon-feeling like a schmuck because they had asked us over for dinner. Shouldn’t I be cooking for them?
As it turns out, my friend shaved most of her head on Monday, but kept it long in the front, similar to Rihanna’s hairstyle. When she showered today, what was left long started falling out. My strong friend, who seemed to be sailing through most of this, lost it. She called her husband up and asked him to shave the rest of her hair… and it devastated her. She insisted on watching in the mirror and was so overwrought that she started shaking and passed out.
Her husband relayed all of this to me while wearing sunglasses. Judging by the expression on the rest of his face, he was as overwhelmed as she was. I saw him cry several times the night of her surgery, but he kept hanging onto the fact that she was so strong about everything. Today, he didn’t have that left to hang on to. I simply listened as he told me what happened… there really are no right words to say. He also told me that he came to pick up their daughter early because he had an errand to run and didn’t want her coming home to find her mother with a shaved head.
I didn’t feel right being there, having him cook for us while my friend was napping. After being there for a short time, it was obvious he just needed to have someone else around. He needed to watch his daughter being light-hearted, playing with her friends.
My friend joined us about an hour later. We sat outside to enjoy the nice afternoon. Sugar and Spice came over right away to say hi to her and didn’t even bat an eyelash to see her wearing a head wrap. Watching them treat her like they always had made me so proud. In fact, Spice almost immediately complimented her on her pretty head covering. My friend told them she had plenty of others in the house if they’d like to wear one too. Before long, all the little girls were doing gymnastics in the yard with their do-rags on.
While I struggle internally with knowing the right things to say and do, sometimes I just need to remember that treating someone like you always have is the best medicine.
And having a cool head covering… well, that’s just a bonus.