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Mourning Hair


Perhaps I’ve gone over the edge with the T.S. Eliot?  I know people are reading my last post, but only a few have dared to comment.

Where is she going with this?

(One insightful friend did indicate she thought there was more to the post than just a hair cut.  Another friend called me “brave,” [isn’t she kind?], and promptly sent me the picture above taken a few days ago when I still had long hair, while another asked me if I was a modern-day Lady Godiva.)

Let me elaborate.

When I was almost three, my parents had another baby and cut my hair into a bad pageboy.  Then they sent me away to a spinster aunt’s for two weeks while my brother ‘got bonded,’ and my aunt bought me a horrific, leering-eyed clown jack-in-the-box at K-Mart, from which I’ve never recovered.


So to get even, I stabbed my mother’s vinyl kitchen chairs with a cheap, serrated steak knife and pulled out the tufts of polyester fiber stuffing, ruining each and every chair.

How’s that for three-year-old sibling newborn angst?

From that point forward I pledged to keep my hair long.  Long hair, for me, exemplified graceful, flowing femininity and acceptance.  It represented an array of hairstyles from pony tails to pig tails, Princess Leah braids to headbands, handpainted name baretts to yarn puff-ball cheerleading hairties, elbow-length, face-covering Dead head hair to shoulder-length, trimly cut wedding veil hair.  And of course the pregnancy-fertile mommy hair that promptly coated the shower stall a few months after childbirth.

Two Christmases ago I saw a friend I hadn’t seen in years.  This normally bobbed-hair, perfect lipstick friend had rangy, shaggy hair halfway down her back.  We were in the toy store debating the evils of various Transformers when I finally had to ask her what the deal was with the hair.  Was she getting the band back together?

She explained that she was growing her hair out for Locks of Love.  “Wow!” I thought.  I could do that.  I mean I grow hair.  I love my hair.  Still, I could do that.  I filed away a short mental note and moved on.

Yet that memory of her “hair plan” nagged at me.  God began to whisperingly remind me about my pledge.  Each month when I would visit my hair stylist, I would ask him how many more months it would take for me to grow my 10 inches.  At one point, it was June and I thought how lovely it would be to have short, smart, Summer hair.

Next I felt it might take until the Holidays to have the right length.  “Yes, after Christmas, would be perfect,” I would think.  “Then I will have long hair for all the holiday pictures and will still have some time to grow it out before Summer.”

This hair dance continued.  Month after month, I’d sheepishly enter the salon, clutch my long locks, and admit I was simply not ready to shed them.  Yet why?  Why was this shock of admittedly stringy hair so important to me?

Finally the whole affair became a bit ridiculous.  Wednesday afternoon when I told H I would be emerging from the stylist with a significant alteration, a strange Lenten offering, he looked at me in a bemused way and gave me a hug, (ie, he didn’t believe I’d go through with it.)

My “stylist” is a 20-something, super-straight, University of Georgia football fan with an 18-month-old son and lovely wife whose hairstyle I pirated.  The man is the best colorist in South Georgia, and he does a great hair cut too, but he can’t put hair in a pony tail.  He gave me what looked like the rubber band off of a newspaper and asked me to put my hair in a loose pony tail.


Hurry up please, it’s time.

All I can say is as I did this, I felt this floating, surreal sensation as if my head was disconnected from my body.  In slow motion I watched him take the shiny scissors, clamp down on my hair, and deftly cut.  And as he cut, the visceral nature of what I felt can only be described as akin to having a baby pulled out of your womb.


Those of you who have pushed and pushed to no avail only to have the unfortunate experience of a forceps delivery will know what I am talking about.  I felt as though something was being removed from me…something I didn’t want to leave…yet something I knew had to go.

So when Tari asked me this morning via email if I missed my hair, I had to answer that not only do I miss my hair, but I am actively mourning my hair.

While I am missing the way my hair felt on my back, and I admit to looking longingly at the stray pieces that litter the floor by my computer, what I lament the most is my own inability to find joy in sacrificing my hair.

Let’s be honest: this is a miniscule sacrifice in the grand scheme of things.  It’s not like I had to cut my hair to prepare for chemotherapy like several of my friends have done lately.  Why has this seemingly small sacrifice been so difficult for me?

While I believe there are several reasons from the frighteningly vain to the extremely personal, honestly I am still trying to understand it all.  Perhaps you have some insight, and if so, please share it with me.

I do feel God calling me to acknowledge my own struggle with a new level of faith, and this reminds me of Stone Fox’s revelations of late.

Or perhaps the decision is just as simple as God called me to cut my hair to help another person and I finally obeyed just because He said so?


Could it really be that simple?

Posted on 28 February '09 by , under Faith is the Evidence.

17 Comments to “Mourning Hair”

#1 Posted by Molly (28.02.09 at 23:40 )

Oh yes, I know the feeling well.

I went through a phase where I grew my hair for 2 years and then chop it all, donate it and start over again and then my hair started falling out (un-related health thing) now, at least for the time being, I am holding on to all I got!

Thankfully it is growing back in (yay)

I love the new do!

Mollys last blog post..Love

#2 Posted by hellokittiemama/MT (01.03.09 at 00:00 )

oh wow. Tough Tough. Its awesome what you did, and I think the new ‘do is pretty spicy and fun looking! Rock it.

What do the kids think of the new ‘do? Belle still hasn’t forgiven me for going shorter and then I got it trimmed and colored it again – oh boy, she was MAD.

hellokittiemama/MTs last blog post..The Disney Dream

#3 Posted by cbowman (01.03.09 at 13:31 )

Bravo! It takes a lot of courage to make a dramatic change to your appearance. Once you get used to it, I’m sure you’ll love it. 🙂

cbowmans last blog post..2009 Empty Bowl Fundraiser

#4 Posted by Danette (01.03.09 at 15:32 )

Way to go! I did that one year too and it definitely took some getting used to… you look great though and I admire your honest look at your feelings around it. (((hugs)))

Danettes last blog post..Magic Marker Monday: Happy Valentine’s Day!

#5 Posted by Ashley (01.03.09 at 17:14 )

I keep looking at your hair. I want my short hair to look that cute. I do love that picture of you.

#6 Posted by acarlson (01.03.09 at 19:56 )

I love it so much. I think you look adorable.

#7 Posted by Helene (01.03.09 at 20:35 )

I totally understand your feelings! About 6 months ago I cut my hair and went into mourning. It was almost down to my waist and I had it cut to my shoulders. I loved the way my hair felt on my back and my arms and I suddenly felt exposed with it so much shorter.

I think donating your hair was a wonderful thing to do!! It’s hard to let go of the hair but at the same time, just knowing someone who doesn’t have hair will benefit from it and feel even more beautiful makes it worth it!

I adore your new ‘do!!! It’s lovely!

Helenes last blog post..Who says learning shouldn’t be fun?

#8 Posted by Natalie (01.03.09 at 22:01 )

It is a hard thing to do. I’ve donated to lock of love 3 different times, the last was in December and it was by far the hardest time I’ve had it cut. I do like my new hair style and it feels good to know that someone will benefit from my locks, but still I mourned as well. I think your new do looks fabulous. Sometimes I do believe that God just wants us to obey even if we don’t want to. Just obeying over and over again makes it easier to do each time. Eventually we get to the stage where we obey not because he says so, but because we want to and then finally to the point where we find joy in it. It’s a long road. You’ll get there though.

#9 Posted by elaine @ peace for the journey (01.03.09 at 23:04 )


let’s try this again (minus the typos)…

You are a precious and incredibly brilliant writer, friend. I can tell that I’m going to love coming here in the days ahead. Kudos to you and your sacrificial snip. Truly, hair is such a small thing in comparison to cancer; still and yet, your giving is great and worthy of the applause of heaven. I buried two friends last year to cancer. I have one that is currently fighting for her life at Duke Med. I often feel so helpless to “do” anything of merit for her.

Your hair is a gift, and I think it’s huge. Now, when you “shake” your mane, you do so with strength and truth and the mighty roar of “yes” in your spirit.

Have a great week, and thanks for visiting the blog.


elaine @ peace for the journeys last blog post..Living Stones from Brokenness…

#10 Posted by mrsbear (01.03.09 at 23:35 )

I don’t know, I think the fact that it was so personal for you makes it that much sweeter. It’s not a sacrifice otherwise. I don’t have any insights, but I think you did a lovely thing, not just for the recipient of your locks either.

I’m a little sad for the three year old in the bad pageboy, a new sibling is a bitter pill, especially in the face of that terrifying clown.

BTW, you look beautiful, whether you think so or not. 🙂

mrsbears last blog post..10 Things My Kids Will Never Hear Me Say

#11 Posted by Carla (02.03.09 at 02:22 )

I can totally relate. I too had that “Mom cut my hair short” phase, but it lasted like 6 years or so, which meant I was growing it out during those awkward middle school years (picture naturally curly hair…FRIZZY…in middle school…yeah).

I vowed, NEVER AGAIN will I have short hair.

Then when I was in my mid-20’s I cut it. OH how I mourned the length – the ability to pull it back in a ponytail. The ability to braid it. Just the length and how it made ME look. Short hair (and I mean short…I’ll have to dig a photo out sometime) and I do not deal well with each other. So I grew it out, and now am straightening that curly hair.

YOU though, look gorgeous with the new hair cut. Almost enough so that I think of cutting my own SHORT again (not as short as before, but short like yours). 🙂

Carlas last blog post..Disney 2009 – Chapter 3.2 – Epcot (night1 there)

#12 Posted by Patty (02.03.09 at 17:51 )

Just because it is “simple” doesn’t make it easy. I think we sometimes underestimate our relationship with our hair. I, for one, have almost always sported a short bob, so I didn’t think I was super-attached to my hair. when my mom had cancer and lost her hair, that was probably harder for her than any other aspect of the treatment, at least psychologically. It may not make rational sense to us, but hair is a part of us, a part of who we are in a way. I don’t have any answers for you, but I can totally see why it has been hard for you.

But, I still maintain that I LOVE your style. You look adorably chic!

Pattys last blog post..10 things my kids will never hear me say

#13 Posted by Felicia (02.03.09 at 18:03 )

Well, I love it!

#14 Posted by the domestic fringe (02.03.09 at 20:50 )

Sorry you’re having a hard time. Don’t discredit simple obedience. You look adorable! Does that help a little? I really do like it and it will be great for summer. I hope it gets easier or just starts growing really, really quickly. 😉


the domestic fringes last blog post..Bookstore Blues

#15 Posted by Peanut (04.03.09 at 02:57 )

Oops… I DID NOT mean for the entire weekend to go by before I commented on this! (Let’s blame the double shift and difficult recovery from working nights, ok?)

First of all, I think you look GORGEOUS with the new hair cut, but I can understand how hard it must be to get used to it. It’s been part of your identity for um, 27 years? (Is that a nice enough guess?)

It shows your heart that you were able to be obedient to God and donate your hair. And I like your heart… that’s why I keep coming back 🙂

Peanuts last blog post..The mommy that I am

#16 Posted by Three Channels » Thrift Store Profiles (06.03.09 at 00:16 )

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