Having been able to plan a bit ahead for this round of Chemo, I arrived in LA a couple days early to work on the other side of town. In LA, this could be five minutes or five hours in traffic. Therefore I rented a car. CC and I coordinated our meet up around her husband’s flight schedule. This Round has him working long teaching days in Paris. So CC and I meet up at my car rental drop off at LAX after she drops off JT. She is on her tail end of her Three Weeks Out, so she’s okay to drive. Her brain is working. Her reflexes are working. She can stay awake and on task for more than two hours. I trust her with my life. Whether I should or not. We’re still in a learning curve; but we need to cling to our so far tested Chemo Schedule Of Basic Functioning.
On the way home to Chemo Canyon, we stop for gas, take out Thai and naturally, frozen yogurt. CC seems mostly on point—driving okay—except maybe for that one curb she hit (did you know chemo messes with your focus, coordination and concentration?).
I look over from the passenger seat– CC looks gorgeous—if I didn’t know any better, I’d never believe she’s wearing a wig. Outside of photos—CC sent me pics of trial wigs, both on her head and from on line providers, I’ve yet to see her bald. Or with fake hair. Honestly, her beauty—her “normal” looks, erase my hesitations of trusting a Chemo Brained, Chemo Bodied Woman from driving me around on LA freeways.
She – it all—just seems so normal. So healthy. So Un-Cancer. Un-Chemo. Un-Life Threatening: hers or mine.
Back safe, sound and private in the canyon, it once again all becomes routine- Natural. Happy Friends Reunited For A Girls’ Week Natural. We prep for our usual evening routine: Comfy PJ’s, wine for me, fresh sparkling water for CC, take-out dinner spread out on the bed with its mattress pad preheating and us scrolling through a packed DVR menu that CC’s been building and saving for this moment since early December. For me. For us. Like normal.
Except this time, part of CC’s evening routine is swapping out her hair for a chemo cap. A soft, simple, cotton beanie. Not for fashion. Not for vanity. Just practicality.
Forget our line up of any reality dating/baking/home renovation show– This time, it’s my turn for the Big Reveal: CC is bald. Well, actually, she has some stubble, but bloody hell, My Friend Is Bald. And while we spoke of this over the phone…while I knew that a few days after my last visit she had her rapidly evaporating gorgeous thick head of hair shaved to the skin…while I knew her hair was gone…well, now? Now I saw it. There, in the doorway of her bedroom. My gorgeous, talented, skinnier than usual friend—she stood there…she…balder than a bald baby…pale, thin…hello Auschwitz.
But to me? This was my, Just As Beautiful As Ever Friend, right? And so my mouth opens and out comes: “You have the face for baldness!”
She rolls her eyes; “It’s really cold!” then rubs her hand across her pale scalp and stubble.
“So it’s true what they say—all the body heat really does get lost through your head!”
“Yeah and my hair was so THICK, remember?”
I do remember. I was always so envious of her thick, gorgeous mane. And I’m momentarily taken back to that day in November, newly into this Chemo Journey, with us walking the beach, with her insisting I run my fingers through her stupidly thick hair—insisting I “pull harder!” to get a handful—“Look at me!” She whooped, uncurling her fingers, reaching to the sky and watching her shiny hair fly over the Pacific ocean and into the blinding sunset.
“I’m a Science Experiment!”
She marveled in it all. With a curious gleam in her eyes and a surviving spring to her step.
Now? Now there is no gleam in her eyes. And the spring of step has become a careful trod. Back into her bedroom. Gingerly into the bed. With a soft cotton, very simple, non L.A., non Beautiful People, non The Land of Bentley’s beanie on her bald head.