To The Guy In The SUV
Its still not easy being in this body. Maybe I say that a lot. But I really thought by now I'd be used to my reflection. I'm not.
* * *
Its especially not easy on days like today, when my abdomen has swollen up to about eight months pregnant again, and they can't get me in to drain it for another four days.
I fell asleep in tears over my belly last night. I'll admit - the angst over this isn't just appearance related. Now that I am mostly recovered from surgery, its my abdomen that keeps me from things like running and bike rides and my yoga practice. Is also a consistent reminder of what I will never be - pregnant.
So its kind of a three-pronged kick in the face every time the swelling comes back.
* * *
My hair is another story. I hated my hair growing up. It was too thick to successfully accomplish any of the amazing 80s styles that filled my middle school hallways. In college I tried several times to rock a short and sassy cut, each time to be left growing out something that resembled a mushroom. I longed for the fine thin hair so many of my girlfriends had.
But when Hodgkins came along, my thick hair saved me - it thinned but it didn't completely fall out. The gratitude I felt for my hair was limitless and from then on, I never complained about my thick tresses. If anything, I started to adore them.
I was so sure I wouldn't lose my hair this time. I didn't last time. Why would now be different?
In fact, there were multiple reasons why now would be different - the chemo drugs they're giving me being different the primary one. I knew this. But I didn't want to believe it.
While friends seem to love my shorn mane, I still cringe when I catch sight of my bare head in the mirror. I miss deciding what color it will be, I miss working braids into my pig tails, I miss piling it on top of my head. No matter how many hats I try out, I miss my hair.
And I still feel uncomfortable in public without it.
* * *
I woke today both swollen and bald and decided I wasn't up for many people. I planned to skip my regular Friday meeting and to beg out of spending the night with a girlfriend. I wanted to hide.
But God doesn't always let us have what we want.
[I know we are clear on that, but it bears repeating.]
A friend texted that she was having a difficult day, so I ended up at the meeting with her anyway - swollen out of my yoga pants with my belly stretching my hoodie to where it didn't belong. I said a small prayer of thanks that we walked in a few minutes late and sat in the back - so few people, if any, saw my awkward frame.
From there I headed to the coffee shop, and as I waited for my tea a man approached me.
"How far along are you?"
I gave him the benefit of the doubt for a minute. He could be asking how far along I am in my chemo regimen. "How far along in what?"
"You're expecting, aren't you?"
PSA to any readers who remain unsure: Do not ask a woman if she is pregnant unless you actually see a baby emerging from her body. Please.
I cried off and on for the rest of the day. I am so over this.
* * *
Hours later I was driving to my girlfriends house, feeling uncomfortable and huge, when a hot flash forced me to take off my hat. I sat at a red light, self-consciously rubbing my head and staring out the driver's side window. As I turned to check the status of the light, I caught the guy in the SVU next to me mouthing something. Just as the light turned green, I rolled down the window to hear him yell "I love your hair!" with a huge smile and a thumbs up.
In that moment, it was just what I needed.
Thank you, guy in the SUV. Thank you.