Hair and boobs

On the morning of my 39th birthday, I was grateful for two things: my hair and my boobs.

There were other things too, of course – the way Sam buried his little face in my hair at 5:30 in the morning. The way he and Drew planned how to surprise me with breakfast and cake and presents.

But my hair and boobs were on my mind the most because in the week leading up to my birthday, one friend had to shave her head and another friend found out she might be losing her breasts.

I sort of hate to feel gratitude like this—it seems like such a selfish feeling. Like by being grateful I am saying that I am grateful that YOU have this horrible disease and not me. I am grateful that I have my hair, but too bad about yours. That’s clearly not what I want to feel. So rather than grateful, I feel cautious, suspicious: maybe this thing didn’t get me—yet—but the next thing will. If it’s not cancer or divorce or a sick child, it will be something else. There’s always something else.

I am 39. I still don’t get a lot of things about life. Eyeliner. Why boys don’t call when they say they would. I am pretty crappy at marriage and I am winging this parenting thing every day. I am baffled by love and most cake recipes. I am at a crossroads in my career. I had hoped for more certainty by now, more wisdom, more knowledge of how the universe works.

Instead I am finding that the only thing I am certain of is the randomness of it all. Of the many, many ways life can be lived and the many, many ways life can turn and change in a second, without much consideration for what I have planned. A chance doctor’s appointment, a weird lump, a driver with a bad morning, an airline pilot with the wrong anti-depressant, a loose screw in the machine—none of it is up to me.

All of this is unsettling, especially when the bad stuff is happening to people I know. But the bad stuff makes me even more aware of how we are in this together, how over time we all grow our own tribes—some distant, some not. I never dreamed of having a tribe so far-flung and random as the one I have now. The happiness, the everyday silliness, the heartache, the pain, the diseases—it is all so close to me as I scroll through names of friends and acquaintances. Years and years ago, without all of this fancy technology, none of their pain would have been mine—and none of their joy, either. I would not have known about shaved heads or lumpy breasts or broken marriages, or sick babies. But now I do, and I can’t un-know any of it. The news pulls me in and I feel helpless in its face.

I am 39. And I still feel ill-equipped to react like a grown-up. I still don’t know the right words, I feel awkward and tongue-tied when my distant tribe needs comfort. I want to be there – but instead all I do is read their bad news and sit with it, taste its gritty, bitter chunks, feel its sadness, its stupidity, its unfair, luck-of-the-draw freakishness. I hate it. I don’t feel grateful that this time it’s not me—I feel pissed that it’s someone at all. I still foolishly believe that these things can’t happen to me, when I KNOW that they can. My heart aches for my friends and the rest of me feels numb and paralyzed with fear for them and fear of what and when comes next.

As I was appreciating my hair and my boobs that morning, I was also thinking about how little we can ask from the universe. Pretty much just this—to be kept whole. Healthy. Close to sweet baby skin. And that’s about it. Wishes about careers or money seem like a luxury. So what?

So here we are. I am 39. I have learned nothing. I have boobs. And hair. And not much else is certain.

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186 Comments Add yours

  1. asavarish says:

    A big thank you for sharing this. 🙂

  2. laurenthornton3 says:

    Reblogged this on laurenthornton3.

  3. roxellamay says:

    I so get you. Learning of disturbing news of our loved ones gives such a horrible feeling of despair! Its even worse when you can;t help them in anyway. I felt the same when my aunt passed away almost two years ago. It was so devastating hearing of her suffering and I couldn’t even bear to look at her during almost a year of disease. Its the same for my Grandma now. And I can’t do anything for her!

  4. eileenecruz says:

    I am 40. Single. Diagnosed with breast cancer. Thus i have no boobs and no hair. What’s next? I don’t know. I just have to believe and hope for better days even if i feel like crap. One thing good i discovered, though, is how much i am loved and supported by friends and family. It’s the only thing that keeps me going. I am overwhelmed with the help i get to survive this…when i felt my world was falling apart.😷 How you feel now is how i felt before i got sick. Now that feeling is put on hold. I just take things one day at a time…it’s the best i can do so i can focus on getting well and getting my life back.

  5. I laughed so hard I hope that at 39 i would be grateful for my hair and boobs also. I am so sorry to read about your friends. I feel the same way because every where you turn there is some bad health news.

  6. CurlyLAF says:

    This intuitive musing gave a boost! There are a lot of uncertainties, and sometimes, I focus on my worries. I forget to smell the flower, to gaze the shimmering clouds, and listen to the chirping birds. But I’ve learned to pause and ponder on the beauty of existence, life has a lot to offer; although sometimes things seem to fall apart, and the morning glory turns to horror — hearing a sad, sad news about my relatives’ misfortune.

    But I opt to be positive and utter a prayer that my relatives who lost all their possession to ashes due to a possible arson in Boracay Island recently would recover soon. And your article really made a difference. I have more than my hair and boobs to be grateful of. 😀

  7. CurlyLAF says:

    Reblogged this on Curly Bookworm and commented:
    This intuitive musing gave a boost! There are a lot of uncertainties, and sometimes, I focus on my worries. I forget to smell the flower, to gaze the shimmering clouds, and listen to the chirping birds. But I’ve learned to pause and ponder on the beauty of existence, life has a lot to offer; although sometimes things seem to fall apart, and the morning glory turns to horror — hearing a sad, sad news about my relatives’ misfortune.

    But I opt to be positive and utter a prayer that my relatives who lost all their possession to ashes due to a possible arson in Boracay Island recently would recover soon. And your article really made a difference. I have more than my hair and boobs to be grateful of. 🙂

  8. Oh wow, i just assumed by the time im 39 i might have known more things…. i have so much to look forward to.

  9. Such a touching post. Just over a year ago my mother got the wretched news that they had found a few lumps. It was devastating to hear but I was so blessed to be able to walk alongside her during this as she leaned in closer to God. I have been in numerous situations where faith is tested and where I have been brought to wonder about my existence. What my mother’s bout with cancer reiterated is the redemptive power of Christ. Even in her uncertainty and times of fear there was an overwhelming sense of peace that she had throughout. It was very inspiring for me to see her face her fears and give them all to God. Certainly hard times will come, but in Christ there is life. Thank you so much for your post and your powerful expression of your feelings. Blessings.

  10. betsbygolly says:

    Point well-made!
    Exactly what I’m feeling, couldn’t have said it better for my self. Xoxo

  11. betsbygolly says:

    Reblogged this on Bets wrote it! and commented:
    Beautifully written 💓
    — LIFE —

  12. Reblogged this on MAKING OLD AGE FEEL GOOD and commented:
    So much to thank the universe for only if we looked for more reasons to be happy about and fewer to lament over 😊

  13. Ariel Hevesi says:

    Reblogged this on Bread and Balls and commented:
    I absolutely love this.

  14. where we are says:

    Great post! I think we all have this idea that at some point our lives should be “settled” and figured out, but really, that would be soooo boring! Embrace the good stuff (boobs and hair), embrace the bad stuff (sickness, uncertainty), and keep your tribe close, but not too close. 🙂

  15. ms.jenniferdianna says:

    Reblogged this on ms.jenniferdianna and commented:
    Great read.

  16. Julia says:

    🙂 beautiful. Nice to know you don’t have to know everything when you get to a certain age. 🙂

  17. ravneetdeo13 says:

    We always take the small things in life for granted.
    Nice article 🙂

  18. chellesm1 says:

    Here I am blogging about being mid forties…I’m still no clearer about life since my thirties. I can’t even say I stress less about it, but I’m looking at it from a different perspective nowadays, and I know it will change again in my fifties. One thing I know…I truly am happy where I am in life right now, and I love how you are embracing yours.

  19. Love your writing style! Boobs are pretty ace. And I think it’s normal to feel that type of gratitude but still care for what friends are going through . It makes you realise how precious life is ❤️

  20. Jay says:

    Sounds pretty grown up to me!

  21. Your words connect with me so deeply. I love how reading can do that. Stephen King called it a form of telepathy where ideas are shared between two people without sound.

    I am living gratitude as much as possible and it has changed everything. We are guaranteed nothing and should be always aware of what we have. Thank you for sharing this.

    https://jotraveller.wordpress.com/2015/06/29/access-makes-invisible/

  22. ademarco3330 says:

    This makes me feel better about being 20 and having no idea about what life is supposed to mean but also how lucky I am!

  23. cromadh5 says:

    Kinda reminds me of a thought I had as a young man, that the older I get the more I will understand women? But now at 64, the less I believe that! Oh well!

  24. Reblogged this on Marketing Maven Mommy and commented:
    We all have struggles….and just like that they are put into perspective.

  25. Katoura says:

    This is beautiful. As someone watching another go through an illness, sometimes it’s good to appreciate the small miracles in life.

  26. HemmingPlay says:

    I liked this. Just found you on WordPress’ ‘recommended’ list, and took a chance. I’m a little older, and a man, but it’s really not much different for any of us. I certainly still feel as though I’m just making it up as I go along. This piece tells your story in a very appealing way, but it also speaks to something everyone experiences. I posted this yesterday, and it’s sort of in the same vein.

    http://hemmingplay.com/2015/07/18/reflections-dancer-5/

  27. asvachula says:

    Someone I didn’t know very well, but who my sister was close to passed away a few days ago. I’m 19 and the woman who passed away was 42 and a mom and she has a daughter who is about 13. I went to the wake today and literally everything in this post went through my head. I hate seeing horrible things, and I’m still really young, but it makes me really sad and almost feel kind of helpless sometimes. I just can’t take stuff for granted.

  28. I lost my hair and I don’t have boobs but your article reminded me it’s not just me who thinks about these things. Thanks.

  29. natashaballif says:

    I absolutely loved this. I thought it would be more of a humor piece because of the title, but I was pleasantly surprised by what it actually was. I agree wholeheartedly. We need to not take anything for granted and appreciate what we do have because we don’t know when it might be taken away. Everyone has different trials and by helping people through them, you become more humble and grateful in the process.

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