Hair and Loss

Warning: language

I’m losing a lot of hair. I mean, a lot. Way more than seasonal. The last couple weeks, when I brush my hair, there’s enough to over-fill my hand. Enough you can’t see the brush. During the day I can run my fingers through my hair and come out with handfuls. I find hair everywhere.

Our cat caught a dragonfly and stored it in the bathroom. It might have survived, there on the mat, if not for the hair wrapped around it. I tried for several minutes to unwind my hair from the dragonfly, feeling oddly teary.

So I did what anyone would do and went to the internet. Two things immediately came up.

Extreme hair loss several months after an emotional shock or trauma.

Health reasons such as something going on with the thyroid.

I decided to call the doctor and get my thyroid tested, because, after all, that first reason didn’t apply to me.

And then, one word. One punch to the gut. One breathless, all-encompassing weight on the heart.

Sam.

Eight months ago a lot of people went through an emotional shock.

The world lost a world-class kayaker.

A community lost a member.

Parents lost a child.

A brother was lost.

A friend was lost.

Last week someone posted a video of Sam on Facebook. He was being interviewed prior to kayaking a river in Kyrgyzstan. He was serious and focused. But right before the camera moved on, he smiled that famous Sam grin. I watched the video in sadness, but that unexpected grin for those few seconds made it all raw again.

So I’m losing hair and now I’m mad at myself. What right does my body, my soul, have, to claim emotional trauma or loss that makes your hair fall out?

I wasn’t his mother.

I wasn’t his sibling.

They’re the ones who wear that soul-deep grief. They’re the ones whose hearts will never fully heal. I actually thought to myself, you don’t have the right to that kind of grief.

How messed up is that?

But I do have the right to grieve. I do have the right to mourn. I do have the right to sit here crying as I type these words.

I have the right to go completely fucking bald if that’s what my heart needs.

I’m going to make a doctor appointment just in case. Probably. Maybe.

But I’m willing to bet those tests will all come out fine.

Because I’m losing hair from loss.

Because eight months later, nothing has changed.

Because Sam is still gone.

A Ghost of a Song

Recently I posted a Ghost of a Story and since then have been trying to figure out how to add the song. I’ve failed and my teenager isn’t available to save me. Instead, I’ve transcribed the words.

First, a reminder.

This song was written by a friend, for a young woman who hung herself many years ago in an old hotel. People used to talk about hearing doors slam, seeing her in the window, and hearing her moving things in the kitchens. But once the hotel closed and started falling in, she was alone. The song nagged my friend, like all stories do that demand to be told. So he finally gave in and wrote it down. And then he sang to Annabelle in the hotel.

Picture the scene. A group of ghost hunters with all their equipment. My friend with his mandolin. A three-story hotel, built in the 1800s, empty since 2001. Windows broken, roof leaking, vandalized, no power. Can you hear creaking of old wood, swollen with Pacific Northwest damp? Can you smell mildew, feel cold? Are you struggling to see what is just outside the circle of light from your headlamp or flashlight? Can you sense sadness in the shadows?

If so, listen and you might be able to hear the notes of the mandolin as you read the words my friend wrote to Annabelle.

Annabelle’s Song

I’ve heard the stories

about your being here

in this cold empty space

you can’t shed any more tears

someone has done you wrong

now you wander these halls alone.

oh Annabelle

wouldn’t you like to go home?

Go on home Annabelle

go on and walk on into the light

the angels of mercy are waiting

to help you make it through the night

and your lover’s there wondering

wondering when it is you that might come home

so won’t you go there now dear Annabelle

you’ve done your time of being alone.

I can only imagine

how cold and lonesome

this could be

but for you I see

a stairway to heaven

or at least the next one

in the big spirit home

in the big spirit home

in the big spirit home.

So go on home Annabelle

go on and walk on into the light

The angels of mercy are waiting

to help you make it through the night

and your lover’s there wondering

wondering when it is that you might come home

so won’t you go there now dear Annabelle

you’ve done your time of being alone.

So won’t you go there now dear Annabelle

you’ve done your time of being alone.

I apologize for the weird formatting. I broke the sentences up by pauses in the song, trying to honor the phrasing of poetry. Hopefully the pauses helped you hear the tune. If not, the song will be released on a CD before too long, with a youtube video I’ll be able to link for you.

Until then, I like to think that Annabelle has gone home. And our town may just be the emptier for that.

A town without its ghost?

A town without its ghost?