My sister called me today. “Have you seen my Facebook page?” she asked.
“No,” I answered, only half listening.
“Go look. I shaved my head.”
And suddenly I was all ears. I was on her Facebook page in three seconds flat. And there was my conservative Christian, middle-class American little sister, she of the beautiful silky blonde curls and the bright blue eyes–balder than a billiard ball. I could tell, even though she was wearing a hat.
“Lili shaved her head, too,” my sister said. Lili is her daughter, and until she ran afoul of the razor the possessor of long, platinum-blonde curls. I went to her Facebook page and there she was, bald. And she wasn’t even wearing a hat.
“Why?” I asked. My sister is a conservative woman, and wife to a Christian school principal. She is also pretty, and puts effort into staying that way. She loves fixing hair–her own, her daughter’s, anybody who comes in range. If I had had all week to think, I would have had a hard time coming up with a less likely woman to make such a radical fashion statement.
“I have a friend who has late-stage breast cancer. She’s going in for chemo on Monday, so sh shaved her head this week. Lili and I shaved our heads so she wouldn’t be the only bald woman at church.” She laughed. “My hair’s gonna look really funny when it starts to grow out, sticking straight out all over the place.” It didn’t seem to occur to her that not many women would do what she and her daughter had done quietly, kindly, and courageously, finding the humor instead of the sacrifice. I don’t know that I would. And if I did I’d for darned sure want credit for it.
My sister and her daughter have willingly chosen to sacrifice their beautiful hair not for their own benefit, but to ease the loss for a friend, for whom baldness is not a choice. Tonight, I honor them. May each of us have a friend like that–a woman who will shave her head, just to keep us company. And if we’re very fortunate, may each of us be that kind of friend.