When the producer got up out of her chair and walked over to brush my hair away from my eyes, I had to stiffle giggles. I was thrilled not just because CBS was in my living room filming me for a segment on families and the recession, but because my hair had gotten so long, it temporarily stopped the shoot. It was official: I’d reached what I consider the sixth stage of grief — shallowness.
The last time CBS had filmed me at my house, my hair was working its way through a blackish-brown post-chemo fro. I didn’t complain because the year before that, I had gone as Dr. Evil for Halloween, and yet I didn’t need the bald cap that had come with the costume. Cancer took my hair away, and then brought it back as something completely different.
But I never liked my curly mop of darker-than-normal hair. I didn’t like it when I saw pictures of me from last February at the Pull-Ups Potty Training party, looking like a small poodle was napping on my head. But it was better than the GI Jane-just-got-home-from-Kabul look I sported at my mother’s 70th birthday party two years ago. So, I kept my mouth shut.
In the past few months, however, my hair has gotten straighter, lighter and longer. I’m still growing it, just because I can. I’ve come to love it. I’ve also come to think that my oncologist was wrong. He’d said that being bald was hard for cancer patients, especially female ones. But I did bald just fine. It was the two years my hair came back that were hard for me, because I didn’t look like me.
So when the producer swept the hair from my eyes, I felt like I’d finally made it through Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ Five Stages of Grief to what I believe should the sixth stage: shallowness. Instead of thinking, “Thank you, God, for letting me live so I could enjoy this moment,” I was thinking, “Yay! I have cool hair!” After all I’ve been through — chemo, radiation, fear of death, scars, pain — I have reached the point where I think of my bangs first. And that, is a great stage to finally reach.