Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Indy Did Something Pretty Incredible

 I clutched my violin, so worried about talking in front of a large crowd. This felt terrifying, almost as bad as a performance in 2021. I’d lost my hair after brain radiation and stood there totally bald with large hoop earrings ostentatiously dangling from my ears. My walker (which I named “Bertie”) helped me reach the meeting room where the entire floor of cancer patients had gathered. I probably looked ridiculous with those earrings matching my hospital gown, but I still fiddled my heart out, hoping to make the day better for someone.

“Indy, it felt terrible. I could’ve fainted,” I told my youngest daughter right after this experience when she was 10.
“Why, Mama? I don’t get it. You’ve played for a lot of people before.”
“It’s superficial… but cancer is hard enough without losing my hair. I could hide behind my hair and makeup. No one knew I was sick. But without hair…well, I guess I actually LOOK like I have cancer now. I didn’t want all of those people to watch me play my violin bald—and I couldn’t afford a wig.”
Her face fell. “I’m so sorry you lost your hair.” She touched her own hair that extended past her shoulders. “Do kids lose their hair, too, a lot…from cancer?”
I’d nodded. “Yeah. I can’t even imagine being a kid with a terminal illness.” And then as I looked at Indy, sadness overcame me. Something so outside of my control is hurting my family; that’s the absolute worst thing about this…
I caught a movement in the corner of my eye, and it brought me back to the present where people had gathered to hear me speak. My right hand clenched around my fiddle, then I blew out a long breath because I needed to say something—do something. They were waiting.
My voice finally squeaked out, rambling for a moment about “reframing.” For those unfamiliar with the term, reframing is basically when you step back and look at situations from different angles. In my posts, I often talk about “finding the good.” That’s really just a way of reframing tough situations so I can get through them.
I spoke honestly. “I don’t think I would’ve gotten treatments if I didn’t have kids. I used to have such big goals: Travel around the world. Go canyoneering. Catch a massive catfish while noodling! But… now my goals are much simpler: See all of my kids become adults. Grow another year older with Mike. Just LIVE!”
I thought about the many people in attendance, and as my hands shook, I willed myself to be strong. That’s when I remembered Indy, the conversation about her hair over two years ago, and something incredible she did this weekend.
“It took forever, but it’s finally long enough,” she said, biting her trembling lip.
“It’s beautiful.” I paused, studying her long hair and gauging her determination. “Are you sure?”
“Mama, I saw how hard it was for you after you lost your hair. I’ve taken care of my hair really well, grown it so I can donate at least 14 inches...” She pulled out a ruler and held it to her hair. “See! There’s no changing my mind. I want to do this.”
So, we visited the hair salon, and they cut 18 inches!
The hairdresser came over to me at one point. “When I realized you put me in your book, TWO MORE YEARS, I went home and cried because it meant so much to me.”
“Really?!” My eyes lit with wonder. I glanced at the beautician’s tattoo that says ‘Always More.’ She’s such a darling person; I never expected her to have encountered any struggles. Yet, she’d gotten that tattoo to remember that there’s always more to people’s stories. She got that after her mother died from cancer.
“I’m so grateful you’re the one who helped us with Indy’s hair donation today.”
Allie grinned and turned to my baby girl. “This was incredibly kind of you,” she said. “You’re making a difference.”
Indy practically skipped to the post office dropbox, so eager to mail her hair to Wigs for Kids. Her hair bounced as she turned and giggled. “It feels so nice to be helping someone since I know how terrible cancer can be. I’m just glad to be making a difference.”
Her words echoed in my mind. And so, instead of giving the speech I had prepared, I told the group all about my brave, generous daughter, Indy. Somehow, by relaying her tale of courage, I suddenly felt courageous too. My violin rested at playing position, and despite fatigue, sadness, setbacks, and second-guesses, I played a song that conveyed hope to everyone.
Pic below: Indy stands with Mike (my husband), ready to mail the hair donation to Wigs for Kids

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