For a long time I denied that my husband was probably dying. Everyone else seemed to acknowledge the fact; I still hung onto hope that he'd get --not just better-- back to his old self. That we'd hike the forest and firetrails like we used to. That he'd be independent, drive his old truck, sit at the computer and write stories, take part in online discussions; lead another writers' group downtown at local venues; watch local bands perform, befriend and mentor the young writers that come to earn a degree at our small-town university.
Then late last month his decline became more rapid, and even before I admitted to myself we were nearing the end, I began cutting my hair. In some cultures that's an expression of grief. I understand completely; it was more a compulsion than a decision. Sure, long hair can be a nuisance, but mine's always been long. I had it cut twice, at age 13 and again at 26. Both times to up around my ears, a bit shorter than shoulder-length but still more than 3-4 inches long. Both times I immediately hated it, and immediately began growing it out again, saying "never again." I was going to be the old lady with a grey braid down to her ass.
Bob loved my hair, and he wasn't the only one. I often got compliments on it, from men and women alike. From strangers and friends. And it was easy to care for once I got it slightly layered; it fell in ringlets nearly to my waist in the back. Even before the layering it looked fine, a poofy cloud of body.
So cutting it, first by tying a ponytail at the top of my head and just whacking it off --which, by the way, by some miracle can produce a professional-looking layered effect-- and then using scissors with first a brush and then my fingers to trim it ever shorter, has definitely been an expression of grief. A signal to the rest of the world: no, I'm not interested. Look elsewhere. I'm mourning.
And still I got attention.
Yesterday at the grocery store a twenty-something male cashier flirted with me. Maybe that's his way of relieving the boredom of his job, but it felt quite intense and real to me. I want nothing to do with that. I'm mourning. Leave me alone. I had a good man. I don't want a new one, not for a minute. Not now. Maybe not ever.
My husband died thirteen days ago. We buried him ten days ago. Tomorrow would be our twelfth anniversary. Last night I got out the "beard trimming kit" and now I have a bootcamp-short buzzcut. It'll be years before it's long enough to tie into a ponytail, let alone a braid.
I live alone, with my cats, with my seedlings, with my yarden, with my birdfeeders, with my knitting, with my memories. Nothing to see here, keep moving along. Leave me be.