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.

186 Comments Add yours

  1. This is a great read! I don’t have children, but can relate to you on the feelings. It was articulated in a great way!

  2. ajaykohli says:

    My sister had breast cancer twice ,she lost her hairs twice due to chemotherapy, and boobs in two surgeries ,one thing I made her understand is to fight not to give up ,she fought and she is fine now in 19 years two times cancer still living happily this is what I taught her ,one thing where still I argue with her she doesn’t exercise ,I want her to loose weight

  3. Through Pain to Victory says:

    I wish you strength & blessings. Captivating writing.

  4. jeminik says:

    I feel like this blog post really reflects life experience, although i’m much younger (16) than and don’t have kids. As my mum says i remember when you were born. This post shows the reality of life oppose to the rosy glasses view we are often showed by the rest of the world. The way you write real drew me in the minute i read the first line i was sold,
    Thank you and good luck! 🙂

  5. Gigi says:

    Reblogged this on Postcards from Casa del Wacko and commented:
    Loved this post and it’s genuineness. I think many of feel the same.

  6. pattyzavon says:

    Great post and so true…thanks for sharing what all of us are feeling! 😀

  7. saratu says:

    Beautifully written. Getting older is such a paradox. You’re supposed to have decoded this whole business of living whilst more challenging situations keep randomly littering your path. Hope you had a good birthday anyway

  8. Your reflections are so genuine. Well articulated. Thanks for sharing.

  9. busbygirl says:

    This is the first post I read all the way through. It made me smile and made me think thank god it’s not just me…… As for hair & boobs… I have the hair. Woohoo!!!!

  10. keirungii says:

    Thank heavens am not alone wondering about life’s randomness

  11. Argh at only 19 this makes me worry about how my life is gonna pan out!!

  12. t.s.y says:

    Reblogged this on WELCOME TO SUCIETY .

  13. Reblogged this on rumblingsofapotato and commented:
    I’m not 39, but I can relate a to this. It’s heartbreakingly sad how the universe gifts us with such inevitable events. As matter of fact, I know I will lose both my hair and boobs by the time I turn 39. Who knows, I may (most likely may not) survive till then.

  14. khalter says:

    We’ll writtem

  15. Neena says:

    Reblogged this on CuckooByChoice.

  16. Neena says:

    Awesome.I am following in your footsteps.One more addition to your tribe.Love.

  17. ramen12 says:

    Its the barbarism of nature’s fury in this present world.

  18. That was one of the best bloggs I’ve ever read. All you need is someone who can braid your hair, taking u bra shopping, someone who wants to listen and really hear what’s bothing you. You just need someone who is willing to just be part of the solution. When you get a chance call a friend to come over, get the wine and cheese out, put some ice in a glass, turn up the radio, gota love the station with the throwbacks. And get wasted,cry,sing,dance. Put your hair down and take off the bra. Curse,scream,stomp your feet, throw something. In the morning you will have a hangover, but I bet you still have that friend thats on that old couch digging in her purse for some asprin and a half once bottle of straight brown whiskey, handing it over to her best friend. Everone needs a BFF. Ya know the ones who love u unconditionaly. The ones that never keep secrets from you. You know a BFF willing to drop everything and everybody to let her BFF know she’s got her back. Gee writing this down makes me wana find a BFF. Some people just are lucky I guess.

  19. This touched my heart

  20. I am 22 and yet i can feel you because i am going through a bad bad phase plus am at a bag log.
    People my age has taken many steps ahead while i am stuck.
    Am thankful that i have an amazing family and a supportive boyfriend.
    Also i just picked up a hobby that i love at the moment and i have started blogging.so i stay distracted from all the grief and hurt.

    Pieceofcerebrum.wordpress.com

  21. rchartier87 says:

    Feeling grateful comes in so many shapes and forms. Regardless of where the gratefulness stems from, the important part is that you ARE grateful, and for things that a lot of us take for granted. Well said!

  22. alrharris says:

    I can relate. As a guy with three kids, an awesome wife and a new motorcycle licence; I still don’t understand life and especially interacting with other ghosts in machines. I just don’t get it. So, I live while I can and then I’ll die. I just hope it’s better on the other side (assuming something meaningful is actually there … On the other side).

  23. sripriya27 says:

    Such beautiful expression! And so brutally honest!

  24. Very well said. Nothing is certain. Celebrate your hair and your boobs…take joy in the big little things I suppose.xx

  25. Reblogged this on Meet jc abdulakeem and commented:
    I love the expression of thoughts

  26. Reblogged this on Mummy is a bit sick and commented:
    Nailed it. This was how I was feeling, right up until it was me that had to shave my head, and got cancer.
    My tribe is far-flung, and some I haven’t spoken to in years. That hasn’t dulled my love and affection for any of you. Thank you for sharing your joys and sorrows with me – I laugh and cry along with you, even if I remain silent.
    To all the wonderful people who have sent me messages of love and support over the past few months – thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m sorry for not responding. I have no excuse. I know it’s rude, and my parents raised me better than that. To respond is sometimes too hard, because I’m trying so hard to get it straight myself. Still not excused, still sorry. All I can say is that I will try to do better tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that.

  27. Sally Bookman says:

    Well written and poignantly insightful

  28. Thank you
    Fantastic blog
    Good luck
    )()(

  29. Vasare says:

    Great post, Touched my heart!

    http://www.vasare.co.uk

    instagram @vasarelle

  30. If its hair and boobs that keeps that skip on your step alive, then team hair and boobs from me too!

  31. Adamma says:

    AndI thought I was the only adult that does not have the right words. You have me hooked already.

  32. Funny. I love your humor and how you embrace with gratefulness what you have. At some point, I thought I have pulled my act together. But like you as I “age” (ugghh!) I realize – I’m not as adult as I thought I am. So, yes girl – THANK you… for Boobs and Hair. 🙂

  33. jennalynnlove98 says:

    I’m sixteen, and somehow with nearly everything you said I know exactly what you mean. Great little read here. It seems to be a sad and sunken battle between pessimism and optimism; between our unavoidable, over-powering giants and little silly things.

    We’ve got to keep our heads up in this crazy train called life! But, yes, when all else fails, we always do have certain things, like our minds and our hearts.

    Or our hair and boobs. 😉

  34. The trick about the whole grown up thing is that everyone feels the same way, just that others play it off better. I deal with it by accepting what is beyond control and sticking to a well thought out decision. That may be right, heck it may be wrong, but it stops the indecision and keeps me calm.

    Cancer – eat right, exercise, and get nutrient supplements.

    Marriage – genuinely listen and get on the same page or at least accept two different pages. the non hearing and lack of agreement are the problems more than anything else.

    Everything else- 80% not with in our control let it play out 20% in our control react by being thought out.

    In the mean time enjoy your time…least you can do while going through hell is be happy. Otherwise you are going through hell being grumpy and that really sucks.

    Regards,
    Clifford T Mitchem
    Advocare Distributor
    Nutrition + Fitness = Health
    http://www.AdvoCare.com/13087657

  35. Marie says:

    I stopped counting years ago, when asked I still say 45 lol.

  36. Sandeep says:

    Nice post. Life is always unexpected dear but the beauty itself is in exploring the unexpected. You can even have a look at my blog 🙂 https://engineerstoentrepreneurs.wordpress.com/

  37. Stephen Mpuquin says:

    Reblogged this on PUQUIN WORLD.

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