Romans 12:14: Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Every Monday, I volunteer at The American Cancer Society. One of the worst side effects of chemo therapy for women is to lose their hair. They seem to be able to handle the nausea, vomiting and pain, but losing their hair is the last straw. This particular Monday would prove to be special.
I heard the chime on the door ring before I saw her enter. All I could see were big, beautiful, blue, sad eyes peeking over the white surgical mask that covered her face. Her head was topped with a white straw hat bedazzled in gold.
She came in slowing and said, “My name is Sarah. I would like to get a wig.”
“It’s nice to meet you Sarah,” I replied. “Let’s go into our wig room.” Our adventure began. “We have a lot of wigs to choose from. Do you have an idea of what you want? We have long, medium, and short hair styles in every color imaginable. Do you have a preference?”
“I want to try all on all of them,” Sarah emphatically replied.
Sarah took off her hat and her head was totally bald. She watched to see my reaction, then those beautiful blue eyes met the floor with embarrassment. I tried to look at her as if she had plenty of hair on her head. I hoped I had succeeded.
“Do you have a cold or any infections?” she asked.
“No,” I replied.
Then and only then, she removed her surgical mask. I pulled out a short brown wig and showed her how to put it on her head. I thought it suited her and would make her look pretty. Sarah screwed her face up when she looked into the mirror and I knew immediately this one was not for her. I heard no complaints from her, but the furrow in her brow gave her away. Next, I pulled out a long red wig. I saw a little smile go across her face. She put it on her head and began to make faces, good faces in the mirror. Sarah stood up and pirouetted around and around the room. Her long red locks were flying in the wind.
Breathlessly, she asked, “Now can I try on a long white one?”
“Sure you can, but I’m not going to give you a white one, because it will make you look like an old eighty year old lady like me.”
That brought a little chuckle from her. I pulled out a long white wig and Sarah placed it on her head. She immediately turned into Cruella De’Vil in 101 Dalmatians. Sarah pretended she had a long cigarette holder in her hand and pranced around the room saying in her best Cruella voice, “if I don’t scare you, no evil thing will, I’m like a spider waiting for the kill.”
Next, Sarah tried on a long dark brown wig. She immediately began to sing and dance, “Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go.” Sarah had become Snow White. I could almost see the seven little dwarfs trailing behind her as she marched around the room.
A long blond wig was next. Sarah, who was now proficient in putting on wigs, became Anna in Frozen. She sang the music from the movie and whirled and twirled around the floor of the wig room.
We joined in and sang with her. “Let it go, let it go. Can’t hold it back anymore…let it go, let it go. Turn away and slam the door, I don’t care what they’re going to say.”
We were laughing so hard, tears began to flow, but they were tears of joy. Sarah tried on every color and style wig that we had. Each one produced a new performance from her. Sarah was in the land of make-believe with no worries in the world, a world that she had created for herself. For a minute, she was well again. Finally, Sarah narrowed her choices down to three. A long blond, a long red and a short brown one that was as sassy as she was. Sarah could not make up her mind.
“I don’t know which one to choose.”
“Sarah, you can have all three.”
“Really? All of them? I can have all of them?”
I felt a huge lump forming in my throat and knew I could not say a word, so I simply nodded my head. I tried to hold back the tears welling in my eyes and feared she would notice them. Sarah began to jump up and down as if she had won the big prize on The Price Is Right. “Thank you, thank you.” she squealed. She immediately put on the long blond wig and began to plait it into one long braid. She cocked her white straw hat bedazzled in gold on top of her wig, put on her surgical mask and began to sashay out the door.
“Am I bad? Am I bad?” Sarah chanted.
As she reached the door, Sarah said, “Oh, I forgot something.”
Sarah turned around and ran into my arms and gave me the biggest hug I have ever received. Sarah’s smile was as bright as the sun shining on the ocean. Finally, I let the tears flow down my cheek as I watched her go out the door. I could not decide if I was sad or happy. Sarah was so full of joy and laughter and hope for a bright future, how could I not be? Sarah has cancer.
Sarah is nine years old.
Sarah reminded me of a story. There once was a lady who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror and noticed she had three hairs on her head.
“Well,” she said, “today, I think I will braid my hair.” She did and she had a wonderful day. The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only two hairs on her head.
“H-M-M,” she said, “today I’ll part my hair in the middle.” She did and she had a grand day.
The next day, she woke up and looked in the mirror and there was only one hair on her head. “Well,” she said, “today, I will wear my hair in a pony tail.” So she did and she had a fun-filled day.
The following day, she woke up, looked in the mirror and there wasn’t a single hair on her head. She was completely bald. “Yeah,” she said. “I don’t have to fix my hair today.”
She and Sarah share the same attitude. I know that Sarah will be all right. God is watching over her. How do I know this? Nine year old Sarah told me so. Nine year old Sarah who brings hope and joy and faith to all she encounters.