Home > Charity, Death, Learning, Love > Growing hair, growing life

Growing hair, growing life

I shaved my head for St. Baldrick’s two and a half years ago.

“Don’t do that!” urged some folks around me. “Think about how you’ll look!”

“Eh, it’s just hair,” I’d reply. “It’ll grow back.” My husband agreed, and sent me off to Chicago with warm wishes.

"Behind my laptop on the hotel desk is a mirror. Every time I glance over the top of my laptop, I can't help but wonder, "What will I look like without hair in 20-some hours?" A handful of hours will tell!"

My hair then

One woman, knowing I’d recently converted to Judaism, explained why what I was doing felt “icky.” The highest level of giving, after all, is when neither the donor nor the recipient know each other. She felt the spectacle outshone the purpose, an assertion I didn’t bother responding to in substance. I shaved my head for the same reason I ran a half-marathon to raise money: People are so inundated with requests for money these days, they want to be inspired by someone’s conviction–not just told–to give.

Another handful of people told me I dishonored cancer patients by shaving my hair; I wouldn’t really understand what cancer patients endure, and would distract other people from understanding the terrible, total experience of cancer. I wasn’t striving to understand the totality of the experience, though. Having lost my mother to cancer, I wanted to do whatever small thing I could to ensure fewer people might say needless farewells … especially to their children.

Mostly, people were supportive. Mindful of both critics and supporters, I made the choice that made the most sense to me.

I went for it.

Arrrgyle returned from Arrrland (photo by Dana S)

Newly shaved

I wore a wig for about a week. It bugged the heck out of me, and beside, I liked how I looked bald. Even strangers’ open stares didn’t change that.

I liked how my hair looked as it grew. And, wouldn’t you know? It really did grow fast. By the time I took my first trip to Vegas less than six months later, it was adorably pixie-like.

Dressed & ready for dinner

Dressed & ready for dinner

A couple months after taking this picture, I felt moved to post a counterpoint to a post written by the lady whose beautiful words had inspired me to shave my head. We last spoke shortly after I posted that, and–though I’m fine with disagreement–I decided that I’d rather keep almost all debate offline in the future. Words alone can say only so much, their tones unintentionally harsh when uncoupled from kindly facial expressions, body language and the real-time give and take of face to face talk.

My hair was a little unrulier around the one-year mark. When my hair is longer, I brush it while wet to straighten out its waves, but that didn’t work as well with my short hair. Still, I enjoyed seeing my hair keep right on growing and changing with my life as I moved from a long-time job in an area I knew well to an exciting new job in less familiar environs.

me and tt

Sina Grace’s beautiful comic tribute to my mom in her Thunder Thighs superhero guise

By a year and a half, I was stepping into totally new territory. After a lifetime spent (mostly) eschewing marriage, intending to never submit myself to the possibility of long-term abuse such as I witnessed my mom endure, I married the man who’d already for several years been my partner.

My hair was almost chin-length; the day, perfect.

wedding bw


Two years and a handful of days post-shave, I met my second son. My hair fell almost to my shoulders, but I wasn’t thinking about my hair. I was thinking about the newest man in my life, and wondering where his life would take him.

Me and Littler J

Me and Littler J

It’s now been two and a half years since I shaved my hair. I didn’t miss it as much as I thought I would, and indeed, thought very little about it most the time.

It did grow back. It’s not as long as it was the day it was shorn, but it’s at a nice length … same as it was all the other lengths betwixt and between.

I still don’t know what it’s like to lose my hair to cancer treatment, and don’t claim to. I do still know what it’s like to lose someone deeply beloved to cancer, and use that knowledge to help me better appreciate the life I have now. It’s different in many ways than it was when I sat down in that barbers chair, but what remains–so much more enduringly than any haircut–is the awe that I get to live, love and be loved, no matter the length of my hair.

hair today

  1. September 14, 2014 at 2:34 pm


  2. September 14, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    Beautiful- the post and you. xoxo

  3. September 15, 2014 at 3:53 am

    I do so love you. I remember the day you ‘went for it’! I can’t believe it is 2.5 years. You are and remain stunningly beautiful.

  4. September 15, 2014 at 7:54 am

    Yes, Beautiful! 🙂

  5. September 15, 2014 at 9:27 am

    very beautiful

  6. September 15, 2014 at 11:01 am

    With hair, without hair…you look beautiful! (but I like it best just below the ears, IMHO.)

  7. September 15, 2014 at 11:17 am

    I admit the “it’s just hair” mentality — but I’ve refrained from letting my four year old dictate his haircut, because, well, his curls are adorable.

    But I love the way you equate hair to life with this — wonderfully done 🙂

  8. September 15, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    Love the unique thread of hair and what you experienced along the way to long tresses again–mostly that it didn’t matter; you were busy with life! Well done, Deb. Thanks! 🙂

  9. September 16, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Great post. It takes a lot of strength to do what you did – people don’t always know how to respond to that – so unfortunately it isn’t always well.

  10. September 16, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    I’m with Valentine here, you look stunningly beautiful either way. If I may just add, I think motherhood has also enhanced your beauty as a whole. Thanks for reminding us to look at the heart not just outward appearances.

  11. October 2, 2014 at 9:33 am

    I so love this – you are a beautiful, compassionate, caring person. What you did exemplifies your support of all people struggling with illness, and it should be commended. Always be true to yourself – you are loving and magnificently beautiful. Thank you for sharing this. ❤

  1. October 22, 2014 at 7:05 pm
  2. September 3, 2015 at 5:51 pm
  3. February 15, 2016 at 8:53 am

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