Yesterday I donated my hair for the 4th time.
I can’t exactly tell you the feeling I get when I see the hair dresser grab the scissors and begin to cut my ponytail, which took years to grow out, off within a matter of seconds. It’s a mix of emotions that include everything from liberation to regret, but each time I experience these emotions, I know it’s absolutely NOTHING compared to what people feel when they lose their hair from cancer.
I lost my grandmother from cancer when I was very young. I don’t remember a lot about her, but I remember that she was beautiful. Not just the outwardly physical beauty you hear people talking about with regards to celebrities, but she was truly beautiful. To me, she glowed. I knew she was a once in a lifetime person and although my time with her was short, it was enough to impact me forever. She was strong, vibrant, caring, but tough. She took no nonsense, but whenever my mom wasn’t looking she’d slip me a piece of gum because she knew I loved double mint. Her staple was green jello and when she fell sick she kept making it until she no longer could. When she began to lose her hair, she decided she would have a wardrobe of wigs, like people have shirts. I was fascinated by her wigs, and being as young as I was, I didn’t understand that the wigs weren’t just for fun, but they represented her strength and pain and loss and so much more than my little 2 year old mind could possibly comprehend.
When I grew older, I started to understand.
I donated my hair for the first time when I went into middle school. I was relentlessly teased and mocked due to the length of my hair, and it was honestly devastating to my 12 year old ego… until my mom told me how proud she was of me through tears. So, I decided to regrow it and donate it again when I was a freshman in high school. My third time was right before I started college, and now I continued the tradition by cutting it just 6 days before I start grad school.
With each transition in my life cutting off my hair was a way for me to honor my grandmother and to let her know that she’ll always be a thought in my mind no matter how much time passes. With each snip of the scissors, I remember her strength, I remember her love, and most importantly, I remember her.
P.S. if you’re looking into donating your hair, check out the different organization’s requirements and whether or not they are non-profit. I donated to Pantene Beautiful Lenths (8in min and non-profit 😄).