October 31, 2014. It was an agonizing decision this morning. Should I or shouldn’t I? It was Halloween after all and my workplace encouraged everyone to dress up. So I stood up tall, took a deep breath and reached into the recesses of my closet. And there it was. A couple of my wigs in a plastic bag – looking a bit tired from lack of wear, and beckoning me to free them. A flood of memories went through my mind as I touched one wig, and then another. It took me to a place where I remembered losing my hair as I struggled with cancer. I remembered my beautiful friend, Afsan, taking me to a wig store and gently recommending wigs I should buy. I was mostly in tears and let her make the decisions. We bought a blonde wig, a wig that looked like my original hair and a wild, long, curly California-like style. I was flooded with memories of how I felt in the early days of my diagnoses – vulnerable, lost, sick. Was I ready to don my old wig for Halloween?’ I decided it was time!
One of the rituals I went through after the cancer was to discard all the clothes I wore during my treatment. I gave away most of my 13 wigs. I did not want any reminders of the dark days. It was a symbolic gesture to move forward with life. It was a form of cleansing.
As I wore my blond wig today for Halloween, I realized that it is okay to remember and reflect on the past. Life is a continuum. We are who we are today because of our past and denying our past, painful as it may be, is denying part of who we are. It also occurred to me that cancer was just a small part of my life for a short time. It does not define my entire life, past or present. I like the metaphor of a large pizza, with cancer being one small piece of the full pizza. It keeps things in perspective for me.
So I say to life, “Bring it on!” Let me experience everything you offer fully – the good, the challenging, the abundance, the adventure, the joys, the fulfillment, the pleasures, the surprises. I will not regret the cancer because it has come with unexpected gifts. My wig today is a reminder of embracing my past and living in the present. Today I feel like the luckiest girl in the whole, wide world!
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