My brother and I were sitting in the living room, watching cartoons one day after my mom started chemo. She had been in her room a long time, but I didn’t think much of it. She was spending more time lying down because the chemo made her very tired.
All of a sudden, Mama appeared around the corner.
“Bub. Do you want to shave my head for me?” Mama asked, clippers in hand.
Our heads whipped around to see if she was for real. Thomas’ eyes lit up. You could tell he was intrigued but also had some mixed feelings.
“Ma! Are you serious?!”, he said.
“Yep.” My mom’s resolve was strong. Fighting breast cancer will do that to you.
“Okay. As long as you’re sure”, my brother said.
He would move mountains if he knew it would bring some comfort to my mom at that time.
Then he blurted out, “I’ll shave mine, too”.
My eyebrows shot upward and my eyes bugged wide, matching my Mama’s expression.
“Me too, Ma!” I exclaimed.
Why shouldn’t we stand on solidarity with our mom as she fought that terrible monster?!
My mom was visibly touched, fighting back a wave of emotions.
She smiled as she said, “That’s so nice of y’all, but no. You don’t have to do that.”
She walked back toward her room calling, “Come on, Bub. Let’s do this now before I lose my nerve.”
My mom told me to sit in the living room during the big chop, so that I would stay out of the way. After what seemed like my lifetime and half of hers, my mom came strutting in the living room to show me her new ‘do. My brother was behind her but I didn’t pay much attention to him. I just couldn’t believe my mom had no hair and still looked like…well…my mom. She wore that red, black, and gold mumu – just as she always had. She looked regal and beautiful – just as she always had. I’m not sure what I expected.
Then my eyes focused on my brother…and the noticeable shine on his newly bald head.
He shaved his too!
My emotions went haywire. Why does he get to shave his head with Mama? Didn’t she want me to support her, too?
I was angry and hurt. I took that whole moment very personally, thinking this was one more way that I was second best to my brother – that my mom was only thinking of him and not me.
Reflecting on that moment now, I know that my mom didn’t let me shave my head because she was thinking of me. She knew her own feelings surrounding losing her hair. She knew that a woman’s hair is her crown; and any woman should be able to have her hair unless she chooses to get rid of it for herself. My mom also knew that I was only eleven years old and would probably want my hair back the very next day.
Well, I’m 35 now. If my mom was living and going through chemo – if she had to shave her head at this point in my life – I would proudly stand next to her, clippers in hand, feeling that vibration on my scalp. Because hair is NOTHING compared to what my mom endured during her battle with cancer. If my bald head could make her feel even an ounce more comfortable while living with that disease, call me “Baldy” – cause this mane would be GONE.
Here’s to you anyway, Ma💗