As a child growing up in the 90s, the ultimate in cool kid hair was to grow out the top as long as possible (which was the top of your collar in my particular public school district), and then to undercut the hair on the back and sides with clippers. Being the “ultimate in cool” kid I was (he said with deep self-deprecating sarcasm), I had this trendiest of haircuts. It took about six months of trips to the local salon before I realized that I was dropping $10 every few weeks for something I could easily do myself.
Side note: I said “salon” on purpose; it was really my only choice. The sole barbershop in my small town was Ray’s. It was widely known that regardless of what you asked for at Ray’s, you were leaving there with some variation of a flattop sculpted with a generous dollop of Dax hair wax.
I bought my first pair of clippers at the local Walmart. It was, and still is, one of those original Walmart stores without a grocery department. Since then, I have been cutting my own hair almost exclusively. That’s about 20 years’ worth of haircuts. Adjusted for inflation, I estimate that I have saved about $4,000. Granted, there have probably been times when my hairstyle looked every bit of homemade, but in the grand scheme of life, I don’t think that has really cost me anything. I know most people aren’t so flippant about their hair, though. Emily certainly wasn’t. She loved her hair in its many incarnations. Short, long, bangs, etc. It was always beautiful.
In the fall of 2012, Emily was undergoing chemo for peritoneal cancer. For the first several weeks her hair seemed to hang on unaffected by the poison we were subjecting her body to. As the weeks wore on though, it became apparent that the toxins were having their way with my wife’s beautiful mocha locks. After mourning the loss for a few days, Emily made the brave choice to take this into her own hands. The same choice she had made with the rest of cancer. She sat in our living room as I used the very same clippers I use on my mane to shear hers. She still had about 70 percent of her hair at this point, and tears and laughter both fell alongside the remaining coif as I cut it away.
Emily has always been the most beautiful of girls, but I have never found her to be more so then when she freed herself of caring about her outward appearance.
Since that time, I have shaved my head every week. And I will forever. Until cancer stops taking hair from others, I don’t get to have any either. And I don’t want any. Not while I am in the fight. While we are in the fight.
Modified from another blog I wrote in January 2014.