The Fall

November 23rd, 2014, 11am

It was 11°C with few clouds. The breeze was light.

On the first day you are warned about the fall, so you are prepared. You have heard of exceptions, but you won’t be one; they are categorical. So you wait. More than two weeks pass and you are still waiting, secretly beginning to allow just a speck of hope to creep in; maybe, just maybe, you will differ. Until one day, you absentmindedly reach to remove a dangling hair that is tickling your cheekbone, and as you pull, a dozen more hairs are pulled with it. And even though you have been preparing, a small gasp escapes your mouth. You try again; one more tuft, one more gasp. And then you make yourself stop.

There’s something bizarrely scary about the ease with which your hair falls; effortlessly, painlessly, as if an invisible laser beam is cutting across. There’s also something disheartening about hair falling. As if you’re losing your power, your trademark, the frame of your face, which clearly marks who you are, without which you are left naked.

And yet, it’s not the loss of hair I’m mourning. They do grow back, stronger, curlier, Shirley Temple curlier. It’s the fact that without them you wear your illness on your sleeve; you become completely transparent. A bald female is the face of cancer. There’s no hiding that. Of course you can wear a wig. Women do wear wigs, and I understand them. I can empathise. My mom wore a wig. Except, I am not like that. I am not about disguises. I like to wear my truth on my sleeve. Always have. So it’s not the baldness I am dreading, and dreading is not the right word, even. I think it’s the unknown that fills me with something resembling anxiety. It’s the day when I will look in the mirror and this unknown other will be staring back at me, who won’t be a different other, though; she will be me. And I will stare into her eyes, and maybe my eyes will well up, except the tears will not pour outward, but inward, and then I’ll nod in acknowledgment and acceptance and say, “You are also me, and for the next half year or so, you will be my truth.”

Because this is how it will go. And then, I will wear my colourful scarfs, tied on the side, 1920’s flapper style, and go out into the world, not hiding exactly, but rather accessorising my truth. And all that is in my near future, and it’s the anticipation that fills me with anxiety - or awe; the anticipation of that first encounter and the moment of self-acceptance. Because that moment there is the most crucial. Only after you accept yourself, can you confidently be yourself in the company of others.

Valia, Shu, Craig, Sophia and 2 others said thanks.

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Maria Coveou

travel journalist, translator, freelance script supervisor for film & TV, film buff, lover of the written word and of music, blogger, vintage lover, '80s child, occasional flapper, Lindy hopper, traveler, thinker, dreamer, temporary alien []

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