Discovered in a Drawer


I really don’t know why I keep this thing; this mop of hair that insurance paid for and that I hated from the moment I put it on my head. I wanted a fun blond wig, but the hairdresser thought I should match my natural, mousy color. I thought it would be fun to have a shoulder length bob, but my mom thought I should match my current short hairstyle. So I ended up with a wig that wasn’t really my choice. When I started running my fingers through my hair and it drifted through my fingers, falling to the ground, I began to wear hats. My favorite was a baseball cap I bought at Princeton when I visited my sister there.

Princeton hat
After my first chemo treatment, summer of ’96

[Tweet “I hated that mousy brown wig the moment I put it on my head. #breastcancer #youngsurvivor”]

While I was teaching, I wore dressier hats. But I never wore my wig, and I never took my hat off while I was teaching second grade. My students knew why I was wearing hats, and as 7 and 8 year olds, they accepted it easily and without many questions. To them, my hat was a part of me. I, however, dreamed of a time when hair would once again brush my cheeks as I leaned forward; to a time when I could run my fingers through my hair again.

breast cancer hat
A picture drawn by a student

The chemo nurses told me about wig burning parties some of their patients had had when their hair started to grow again. I really didn’t feel like burning a wig I never wore. It would have been a useless gesture. (I was also never going to burn my beloved Princeton cap!) And so the wig was thrown up on a closet shelf, moved around a few times, and came with me to a couple of apartments before my husband and I bought a house. In the back of my mind, I kept the wig in case I needed it again. But if I hadn’t worn it the first time, would I really wear it a second time? My wig finally ended up in my top dresser drawer among spare shoelaces and fuzzy sock-slippers, buried away and forgotten.

straw hat
On a field trip with my students

Forgotten, that is, until Emmy rediscovered my wig. As any eight year old would do, Emmy tried it on for size and then kept it on. She began walking around the house saying in a deep voice, “I’m Mommy!” She even wore it outside when she was playing with the neighbors.

My expensive wig, reduced to a plaything. Am I okay with that? Yes, I am. After 19 years, I’m pretty sure I won’t need it again. If I ever do lose my hair to chemo, I’m getting a wig that I choose. Maybe it’ll even be pink.

Maybe it'll even be pink.
Maybe it’ll even be pink.

I started this post last week for the prompt “discovery,” but I didn’t finish it in time. Since October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’m using this as my fall post. Link up your Fall post below, and be sure to visit our other Spinners!

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8 Replies to “Discovered in a Drawer”

  1. Before I had my operation back in February I had been thinking of dying my hair pink, but in the end the cost of doing so, was a bit too much and I decided against it.

    What a shame you didn’t get the hair/wig you wanted. I don’t think you should get rid of it though. If not for you, for your girls. And not necessarily as a plaything, but as a reminder of their Mum’s strength!
    Mara recently posted…Photo on Sunday 2015-35My Profile

  2. What a wonderful post. I’m so impressed that you can go back to what I imagine was a painful time for you and speak of it without negativity. And such lovely memories of your students. If I were you, I would definitely go for a wig of my OWN choosing. But here’s to hoping you won’t need to, girl!

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