And we live in a society where we are told, over and over, that if we don’t like something about ourselves, we should just change it. Get a new haircut to hide the ears. Go to the gym for the thighs. Use that miracle eye cream for the eyes.
I have something like that. Well, a lot of things like that. But one that is particularly frustrating. My hair.
I love my hair. It is curly and beautiful and so much fun now that I’m out of the awkward teen stage where I knew nothing about caring for it. And I love the little highlights and colors that develop with each season.
But what I don’t like is the grey that keeps appearing year after year. I know that this is a problem that everyone has. And I know that there is a simple way to change it. It’s called hair dye.
But for me, such a thing is a complicated proposition. Dying your hair takes two working hands. I don’t have that.
You see, I was born with a disability that has left me with weakness on one side of my body. My left hand is not generally useful as a fully functioning tool. It’s more like a blunt instrument. I’m grateful to have it, but for tasks requiring dexterity, like brushing one’s teeth, holding a nail, or typing on a keyboard, it’s quite useless. Most people don’t notice. I have spent my life adjusting and adapting tasks so that they work for me. I do things in one-handed ways that go unnoticed most of the time. In fact, most people only see my crooked walk and never notice that there’s anything wrong with the rest of my body. Many people don’t even notice anything wrong with me at all.
But I know. I know what kind of a day I will have before I even get out of bed. I know my limitations, and I don’t ever forget that I have them. I know which tasks are easy and which tasks are near impossible. And I know that a lot of them are things that most other people don’t think about. Things like dying my hair.
Every time I look in the mirror, I am reminded of my broken body. I cannot change the things I see in front of me. So I must accept them, over and over.
And then comes this bright girl. So much like me. She’s ready to change the world. And she has apparently decided to start with me. My dishwashing skills are lackluster, and I rely on a machine to do a real woman’s job, she says. So she buys me a sponge. My clothing choices are poor, and I’m not an old lady so why do I keep dressing like one, she asks. So she gets me some skinny jeans. And why I no dye my hair, she questions.
I can’t, I say. And I don’t even have to explain before she speaks.
I will, she says. I do for my friends. My friends do for me. I do for you. You love.
Yes, I certainly would, I told her.
No one has ever offered this before.
And so we went out and she chose the color. She selected her supplies. She set up a work station in the living room in front of the TV. I was to sit and watch and let her work.
Oh, the love that was poured out in that simple act. The shrug of acceptance that what I cannot do, she will. No pity. No suggestions for how to try it myself. No begrudging. She simply said, “Can I do for you?” and then she followed through. I don’t think I can adequately explain how rare that is.
This salty-sweet girl, with her own hurts, she sees me. And she opens her heart to me to serve, to be real.
We laughed so much. She dropped a blob of color on my shirt. Good thing I already know the Russian word for “poop.” The laughter over that one shut the operation down for a full five minutes.
She dripped some spots on the carpet. I didn’t care. It’s just carpet. And I love those little drops of kindness and care. Permanent stains of love in action.
I don’t think she’ll ever fully understand the gift she gave to me. The depth of acceptance that an act like this represents. The pleasure that this experience was for me.
She loved me where I am. No questions. No judgments. Just action.
And I know she did it because she wants me to be beautiful. Because she already sees me that way.
That is love I did not expect to find.
And now, when I look in the mirror, I don’t see my broken. I see my girl. I see redemption. I see love.