Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Night My Husband Went Bald

Two days after my dad went on ahead, my siblings and I, our spouses, and our children all spent the night with my mom.  My brother-in-law Peter sat at the dining room table to work on creating a slideshow of photos of my dad to play at the memorial service the next day; with the rest of us taking turns handing him pictures to scan and giving input about what music to use, he worked on the project for hours into the night.  In other areas of the house, there was talking, comforting, and some crying going on; mostly I think we were all just trying to absorb what had happened and to keep ourselves together any way we could so that we could make it to and then through the memorial celebration we were hosting the next afternoon in my dad's honor.  

Just before midnight, we set up pallets on the floor of my parents' bedroom to the side of their bed, and then Mom and I went to bed in that room with the kids.  Exhausted, we fell asleep just minutes after we had closed the door to the room.

At some point in the night, I woke up and went upstairs to get in bed with my husband; the problem with that plan, though, was that when I'd gone to sleep downstairs it had not yet been determined where the other adults besides Mom and I were sleeping that night.  It was chilly upstairs, and I was anxious to get into a warm bed and go back to sleep.  I peeked into one bedroom and then into the other and saw two bodies in each bed, and so I looked in the TV room and saw a single person whom I deduced was my husband lying on an air mattress completely covered up with a sleeping bag.  I tucked in beside him, and he stirred a little in his sleep, causing the sleeping bag to shift and giving me a little bit of a view in the mostly dark room of his face and his head.  

In that moment, my heart skipped a beat. It was my husband's face, but it didn't look like his head: every bit of his hair was gone.

Without even thinking, I reached out a touched his head; he woke up and said, "I got my head shaved."  

"What???" I said, in disbelief.

"This way your mom can just look around for a bald guy at the memorial service if she needs anything," he explained, still half asleep.  

I was touched.  Shocked, because I'd had no idea that head-shaving was even being considered, but touched.  My dad was bald, as are my brother and both of my brother-in-laws; Kevin was the only adult male in the family with hair.

We went back to sleep for a few more hours, and then we got up and got ready for the gathering for the memorial.  All day I kept looking at Kevin's bald head and doing a double-take; he looked so different than he did with hair.  It somehow fit, though, in that place and time, as an act of tribute to my dad and as an act of protection and support for my mom and, by extension, for my sisters and me.  His newly bald head and even the grouping of the quartet of bald guys at the memorial were quite the topic of conversation, and thankfully it made getting through one of the hardest days of our lives a little bit easier.