UNINTENDED UNPLANNED EMOTION
The slightly bouffanted blonde older (older, like my age older) woman with black eye liner and nude glossy lips was waiting for me. To be perfectly frank, I had my eye on a younger more tattooed woman to do my hair for the fashion show I was privileged to be a part of last night. I had decided to be completely open to the entire event as previously written about in my last writing so when Lori approached me, I just went with her and the flow of the beautifully crafted and organized like Swiss clockwork evening. These ladies from the Paul Mitchell School in Cranston, RI were volunteering their time on a Saturday afternoon doing all of the models’ hair and makeup and I just wanted to be a part of the total experience. I wanted to let them take care of me and free myself of the ridiculous incessant need to control every waking moment of my existence. I am sure that this need for control is one of the more esoteric reasons I got breast cancer in the first place. It seems like a common denominator in the personality traits of so many survivor chicks I have had the fortune to cross paths with over the last three years.
She gazed at my thick, long salt and pepper hair with a sparkle in her eye. I had no idea what she was thinking and I really didn’t care. There were no mirrors around for me to have to watch and I really used the time to just enjoy the experience. Typical of hairdressers and their clients, we began a light Q and A session to pass the time. Especially since I have been in the beauty business for over thirty years, I am always curious why people land there, she seemed about my age so I asked if this were a second career. It was. These are some of my favorite women to speak with because it usually means that they have headed down the path with an inner calling fueled by a long time dream to be part of the hair world. I admire women who follow their calling the later years of their career and I love to speak about it with them over the pulls and twists of getting my hair to do what they envisioned. She flat ironed, and marcel ironed and sprayed and teased. The aroma of heat with hairspray melting into my hair brought me back to my old days having to attend hair shows when I worked with Aveda. Meanwhile the twenty something tattooed waif of a girl standing across from us was thinking about my makeup and looking at me with her artistic eye. An hour later, I was the embodiment of a vintage pinup girl and I LOVED the whole look, the preparation and the end result. I was slowly learning that the whole point of the night was to celebrate the collective US. The cancer survivors, the caregivers, our families, our friends. I never really felt the need to have a group celebration like that, it never occurred to me that it was even necessary. As I plodded through the blur of the Kentucky Derby themed evening sitting with my only two friends who didn’t have plans that evening, I leaned in. Sheryl Sandberg would have been proud. I applied the wonderful five A’s that don’t always need to be reserved for intimate relationships. I Allowed. Appreciated. Accepted. I Attended and I had deep Affection for the women and men who made it all possible. What I assumed would be a silly and fun wacky evening was remarkable and the deep layers of emotion surprised me.
I stood in the line in my David’s Bridal coral chiffon dress and my five inch wedge shoes from Off Broadway Shoes from The Warwick Mall waiting my turn. I was second to last and stood a person away from the only young man in the lineup assuming he was the son of one of the cancer survivors modeling in her honor. “How did you get roped into this?” I asked with a playful curiosity.
“I had lymphoma.” He said with a gentle spirit.
“You are alive!” I said with utter happiness. “I bet you have a lot of people here who are so happy you are alive, how old are you?”
“Twenty.” he said. I smiled firmly. “I’m so happy you are here.”
Then out of nowhere, the tears flooded my mascara lined and ladened lashes. I had to turn my head so the floodgates wouldn’t open five minutes before I was supposed to sass my silly #lovelybadass self on the runway to the beat of some more music my fifty three year old self didn’t recogize. My brother. Yep, there he was in the center of the tears, just like thirty years ago when I was getting ready to speak in front of over one thousand attendees at an Aveda business conference, my first speaking appearance at the tender age of twenty nine. I had learned just the night before that my brother had adeno carcinoma of the lung, at the time a fatal diagnosis and had just asked the leader of the company five minutes before going on stage if he knew of a healing place in the country that may offer alternative medicine. My eyes had filled up then five minutes before going on the stage. Here I was thirty years later and it was a reenactment. So much had happened in thirty years and here I was standing in front of a twenty year young man very much alive who triggered my entire thirty years in one short sentence. I had lymphoma. Twenty. The same age as my son now. My son who was also diagnosed with the BRCH 2 gene. I got home and realized I didn’t want to be alone last night. I was mixed with joyful sorrow so I got my stuff together and drove to my partner’s house and promptly into his arms, tears flowing with the sadness of loss and the joy of life all mix and matched. All because Maria Gemma asked me to be the fashion show. It’s like she knew it was exactly where I should be on a Saturday evening. I would do it all over again in a nanosecond. This is the power of not only a powerhouse woman but a powerhouse organization filled with powerhouses on a mission to get people like me to say yes instead of no. More yesses for the right reasons, for the right causes. The unintended and unplanned emotions that came up last night despite the tears keeps my life in perspective. This was the gift that keeps on giving from all of this cancer. #LUCKYINDEEDAGAIN.