Jewish Journal

Cancer, Haircut, Birthday & Starting Fresh

by Ilana Angel

November 15, 2013 | 6:00 pm

November 22 marks what would have been my father’s 75th birthday. He passed away from cancer and as the date approaches I find myself getting sad and angry. Sad he is not here, and angry cancer is such a vicious bitch. I am going through a transition of some kind and while not sure exactly what I am feeling, his birthday is making me want to find a way to start fresh.

I have been going through old pictures and the last time my entire family was together and all dolled up, was at my brother’s wedding about 12 years ago. I found a beautiful photograph of my parents, sisters, brother, and me. I had a shoulder length bob and am standing next to my Dad with his arm around me. I decided then I was going to cut my hair back to a short bob.

My father’s name is Robert, so a "Bob" made sense. I could tuck my hair into my pants it was so long and the thought of cutting it was scary. I decided to donate my hair to Locks of Love in honor of my dad. I made an appointment and tweeted about it so it was out there and I couldn't change my mind. Thursday was the day. I was nervous.

I called my stylist ahead of time and told her what I was doing and that she should not talk me out of it. I have spent years going in and insisting she just trim it, so I needed her to know I was really doing it and she needed to just cut it without talking about it. I walked in, she hugged me, and got to chopping without questions, but with encouragement and a smile.

When she did the first cut I started to cry. Not because my long hair was gone, but for other reasons. I cried for my dad, for cancer, for my son going to college, for the confusion of dating and pushing away a man I care about, and maybe just a little bit for my hair. Over the years I had somehow decided my hair had Samson strength, which is silly.

When I woke up today and remembered what I had done, I was in a bit of shock. I went to brush my hair and the long stroke I was used to now took a second, so I panicked. I took the picture from my brother’s wedding and put it next to the mirror, and as I brushed my hair and looked at my dad I cried again. Not because I was sad, but because I was blessed.

I will look at that picture everyday and remember the haircut I have now is the style my father last saw me with. As his birthday approaches I will remember everything about my dad, and as he looks down to make sure I am okay, he will see my short hair and remember when we were all together. In going back I am able to start fresh, and be reminded to keep the faith.



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Ilana Angel writes two blogs for JewishJournal.com. KEEPING THE FAITH is about her worldview as a single Jewish mother, and KEEPING IT REAL is all about reality television....

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