Today makes eight months and 16 days since you left us, and I did something today I never expected to do.
I cut my own hair.
I had decided to just let it grow and never cut it again, or at least not for a long, long time.
I guess I thought it would be some act of remembrance; a sign of my mourning, like in the old days when the grieving wore black for a year.
Nobody else but you has cut my hair since I was fifteen, and my friends and I would come up to the cosmetology school for manicures and cut-n-colors.
I was so proud of you, watching my big sister learn these new skills; watching you laugh with your fellow students while my friends and I got pampered at discounted prices.
You graduated at the top of your class the same year I got married.
You graduated at the top of your class while working full-time, raising five kids as a single mom.
You were my hero.
And I remember the way your hands felt in my hair, quick and confident, as you brushed and separated and snip snip snipped at the curly mess on my head.
As you were brushing and snipping, we’d talk about the kids: yours and mine and activities and sports they were involved in and awards they’d won and recent report cards and who the kids were dating now and which kids were learning to drive.
And usually my little guy would run into the kitchen and say something that made you crack up laughing, and you’d have to stop for a minute to sit down or take a sip of your Sunkist or put your hands on your knees when you laughed so hard you started to cough.
You’d always say, “He’s so funny! My little booger-butt.”
Donovan’s first baby haircut was done in your old kitchen, and Brennan’s first one was in mine.
You trimmed the girls’ hair for the first time at my old house, just before they each started kindergarten.
Remember how Brennan would cry and say the tiny bits of hair that fell down his neck burned his skin, and we would need someone to sit with him and feed him fruit snacks until the haircut was over, and then we’d pick him up and run with him to the bathtub and stick his screaming, squirming little self in the water to get the hair off?
We were both so grateful when he finally outgrew that.
You were over to do family haircuts the day we adopted the little yorkie, and you sat on my couch and held her tight, squealing over how small and pretty she was, that wiggly little two-pound thing. You held her up to your chest and rested your chin on her body, closed your eyes and smiled.
The last of us to get a haircut from you was John. You were exhausted and couldn’t figure out what you’d done to make your shoulder hurt so much, but you offered to come cut his hair so he’d look good for his job interview. That was almost exactly one year ago.
The boys had their first haircuts at a barber shop last summer. They were nervous wrecks, and Brennan watched the barber in the mirror the entire time to make sure she was doing it right.
I took pictures of the big event, even though the boys were eleven and thirteen. Still. It was a big deal for them to sit in that chair and have someone else do what you’d always done for them.
The second time I took them for haircuts, we went to a different shop. This one was bigger and a bit fancier than the first, and they had those giant sinks with the space cut out in the front to lay your head, you know? Well, Brennan noticed them and demanded his hair be washed in one because he’d read on the sign out front “Shampoo and cut $15” and he said he wanted Daddy’s money’s worth but really he just wanted to feel cool and have his hair washed in the big sink.
He was so funny. Your little booger-butt.
Savannah bleached her hair blond in the fall because she told you she was going to and you said you liked it. Olivia helped her with it. It did turn out really cute. You were right.
Savannah was almost-sixteen the first time she had her hair cut in a salon, just before school started last year. I took a picture of her in the big chair, too.
She hated the entire experience and said the stylist didn’t listen and it was all wrong and she refuses to go back. So for now, anyway, she has vowed to never have her hair cut again by anyone else.
She’s planned to take cosmetology in Skills Center year after next. She’s always wanted to be like you.
Olivia hasn’t had her hair cut in over a year and a half. She wanted to grow it out for senior pictures and now that those are done, it just keeps growing longer.
I think she is just nervous about letting anyone else cut it. She gets anxious sometimes. More often since you died.
I’ve teased her about it, but the truth is I don’t want anyone else to cut my hair either.
That was your job, and I don’t think anyone else can fill your place.
At first, we couldn’t get our schedules to match up so you could cut my hair. Then you were so exhausted after work, you’d fall asleep as soon as you got home.
Anemic again, you thought, and started taking iron pills.
Then there was the pain in your shoulder, and it hurt so much I couldn’t bear to ask you to do it.
“When my shoulder gets better…..” you said.
We’d get together then.
But it didn’t get better, and now you are gone.
I’m trying to remember, and I think it’s been longer than a year and a half since you last cut my hair.
Probably closer to two years.
So I wasn’t going to cut it, but there are inches of dry, split ends and no matter what I do, it looks a mess and I feel like you’d be disappointed in me if I leave it that way.
I looked up a tutorial on how to cut layers in hair, and it said to just put wet hair up in a ponytail and cut.
That’s what I did. I had to use regular household scissors because I don’t know where your haircutting kit is. It might be down in the boxes in Mom’s basement, or somewhere packed up at Big W’s house.
If it turns out okay, maybe I’ll buy a pair of my own haircutting scissors.
I don’t know.
I was really missing you today when I saw those couple inches of hair hit my bathroom floor.
I wished we were in the kitchen again, drinking Sunkist and laughing about our kids.