My son covers his eyes anytime he sees me with my head uncovered. My baldness makes him uncomfortable. I don’t blame him, and I do my best to wear a hat in front of him. But part of me wants him to get used to this new me. To be at ease with me no matter what. Plus, I think his averted eyes touch the part of me that isn’t entirely comfortable—and I want to be at ease with myself no matter what.
The other night I went to a dinner party with mostly close friends. Getting ready, I was tempted to wear one of the wigs I bought several weeks ago but have only worn once or twice. Once again, I chose not to because somehow, wearing a wig makes me feel like an imposter. Like I am trying to pretend I don’t have cancer, that I’m not in chemo, that I don’t have a hairless head (not to mention a hairless many other things). Mostly, I don’t want to pretend any of those things. So once again, I wore one of my “cancer scarves” instead. I “owned” my cancer.
Until I was at the dinner party with one of those infamous hot flashes. Part of me so desperately wanted to bare my head. Not because the heat was so unbearable, but because I wanted to really own my cancer. I even slipped into the bathroom and slipped off my scarf to try it out in the mirror. Did I have the nerve to do it? To walk out of the bathroom fully unveiled? I didn’t. I felt too exposed. Too naked. Though I’m not even sure whether my discomfort had more to do with me, or more to do with how others might feel in my naked presence. Would my friends want to avert their eyes like my son?
“No, but I still think you look weird.”
I love weird and I love her six-year-old honesty and I love that she is just as at ease with me now as she was before cancer changed our lives. Maybe the next time I want to take my hat off in public, I’ll think of her.