I'M SO CHICKEN
How shall I mourn Jack? Some outward sign of my inward grief, I thought.
Wearing black? But when I looked at Internet images, they mirrored another era: long flowing skirts, veils over faces, no one in lanky black pants.
Then I saw that a bereaved person could make jewelry from the hair of her beloved, but I couldn't do that; Jack's hair had disappeared with Jack into the crematorium.
I almost didn't notice the third option: shave your head.
However, once the idea hit, it refused to leave. VIsions of shaving my head whirred in my mind, some negative, some positive. I mentioned my thoughts to no one.
Finally I turned to my calendar, found the first possible date I could visit a beauty salon. Then I told myself, "Okay, Marilyn, on that date you either go get your hair shaved off or you shut up about it."
The morning of my free day I went to my local Great Clips.
"Want a hair cut?" the stylist asked.
I moved my hands all over my head. "Off. All off."
She nodded. That was a relief. For all I knew, Great Clips might refuse to shave my head, send me to a special barber for such a task.
"Will I need a shampoo?"
She looked quizzically at me.
"You know, to wash all the hair off."
"Nah." She wrote me in. "There's a 40-minute wait."
Then, in the chair, I told Melissa what I wanted, and why, and watched my white locks fly to the floor. She ran a big clipper over my head, but I could still see a residue of hair. Then she picked up a small trimmer.
"Do you want your hair entirely off?" she asked. "I could leave about this much" she pinched her fingers almost together "with this trimmer."
I knew I should say, "entirely off." I was, after all, shaving my head. Down to the skull. That's how it was done. The nerve, for even asking.
"Use the trimmer," I said, mortified. How could I be so spineless, so faint-hearted, so weak-kneed, so Chicken Hearted.
Melissa trimmed away. "Oh, see how different you look. Your eyes! You can really see them. They're beautiful."
Her tip flew upward.
I looked at my face. I didn't look as ugly as I thought I would. Familiar, even. With my new beautiful eyes.
The stylist put down her trimmer and whipped off the black robe. "You'll be wearing a wig?"
A wig? That wouldn't be an outward sign of my inward grief, but I mollified her. "Hats!" I said. "I have lots of hats."
I ran my hands over the fuzz on my skull. I felt lightheaded. I felt happy. I even knew what Jack would say if he saw me like this. He'd say, as usual, "You're gorgeous." And I, as usual, wouldn't contradict him.