Recently, we were out to a pretty fancy dinner to celebrate my little sister’s 25th birthday. It was a chew-with-your-mouth-closed, man-can-I-pocket-one-of-these-glasses restaurant. Everyone was waxing poetic about how time flies. And it does. My sister was born when I was 13-years old. I was actually playing in a middle school volleyball tournament across town when she made her debut.
25-years-later, she reminds me as I lean over some Wagyu steak that I used to show her how to shave her arms by, well… by shaving mine. I was in disbelief. I just slackjaw gawked at her like she had no less than ten heads. Shave my arms? That sounds so Goth. I ran between the crowds in school but shave my arms?
Then I halted mid-denial with my fork suspended over the plate because I remembered these strange tufts of hair that are thicker (and darker, there I said it) than the rest of my forearm to this very day.
Right then and there, I had to gently put down that crisp linen napkin and pull up my sleeve to double check. That’s when it all came flooding back to me. I did it. Oh hell, did I ever. I shaved my arms right in front of her. Multiple times.
My husband found this to be a tad bit hysterical because we have always joked (or he has) about those hair tufts, especially when I exercise – that particular quadrant of my arm glistens just a bit more than the rest. Go on, grab a barf bag. Never said we were normal in this corner. I wonder if this is the same sister-modeled-behavior that prompted my little sib to give herself the blunted asymmetrical haircut soon thereafter? So very sorry, Mom. I bet if I would’ve been allowed to shave my legs at ten, I might not have shaved my arms as a teen? Note to self for prepubescent daughter’s sake.
Shaving my arms in front of a toddler? I cannot believe the universe saw me fit to be a mother after that.
You know what? It is some scary stuff that the brain can suppress when it feels entitled.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of visiting with one of the coolest professional shavers to walk this earth.
One of my best friends is battling cancer. In a preemptive strike against her foe, she decided to beat cancer and chemo to the punch and shave her head first. Amy’s fight with cancer is just one of the many reasons I have been walking around with a cloak of new perspective lately. Maybe it just part of growing older but I feel like people I love are fighting these types of battles at every turn. I almost feel guilty deriving such perspective from seeing them battle uphill, one-day-at-a-time. Every. Single. Day. That doesn’t seem fair. If you’re going to watch, seems like you ought to be able to throw a few punches in the ring too. At least break a sweat for crying out loud. I hate watching her do all of the work while we all sit back, pray, and hope to the God of our understanding that she and the other fine people fighting cancer win in a knockOUT round at the end. It feels like a pretty passive seat in the auditorium but I think the important thing is we are in a seat. That we are cheering. That we are crying and cursing. Praying. Sometimes just cursing.
Short blog today. I just want to thank Amy and others like her from the bottom of my heart. Thanks to all of the people out there who are wearing their struggles publicly. You cloak us in such perspective every day. You click it right around our shoulders like a seatbelt every morning. It’s messy business, this living. I am determined to keep these memories, the good, bad, and ugly, less suppressed going forward.
In other words, I might go ahead and choose to remember the burned dinners and temper tantrums (mine, not theirs) way on down this country dirt road if I ever get there. We are the sum of our mistakes just as much as the sum of our successes. And if I ever catch you staring at my arm hair, I will shave yours in your sleep. It’s not nice to stare. Oh, like I care.
Love you, Amy Keller. Keep fighting. You’ve got this fight … and a friend with a furry arm.
Please feel free to go give my friend a fuzzy hug on her Caringbridge site: