independent artist and web programmer
a few years ago, in an effort to purge all lies from my life, i felt i should actually assess myself when people greet me with, “how are you?” this led to me telling a lot of people i was tired or stressed. by breaking the social norm, i raised a flag in people’s minds that it was a cry for help. they’d quiz me further and find out i’m feeling about how most everyone is feeling. life has ups and downs and when we put a microscope on it, those downs look a lot bigger, while the ups tend to seem trivial. we take life’s positives for granted. i still try to be honest when people ask that question, i just try to be more gracious. when i’m generally good, i’m good.
all that to say i was putting a microscope on lisa’s health. i know the path to recovery won’t be a smooth and steady hill, but i stubbornly took every unexpected turn as a huge setback. by undercutting the progress we made with a negative outlook, i was living in fear, stress, and pessimism. i was looking around every corner for the next setback to get us. i was assuming we were sheep at the slaughter. but the only thing that’s going to die tonight is this grief beard.
“he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? it is God who justifies. who then is the one who condemns? no one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? as it is written:
“for your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[psalm 44:22]
no, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. for i am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – romans 8:32-39
i last shaved on june 19th. the next day, lisa went in for surgery. everything seemed smooth and after she came home, the kids and i took a mini-vacation to visit aaron while lisa recouped at her parents’ house. right after we got home, i drove my daughter to the airport late at night. one week had passed and there was no time to shave.
the next day we woke up late and had to rush to a follow up appointment. i didn’t shave or eat breakfast, lisa didn’t even get a shower. the appointment took an unexpected turn and she ended up being admitted to the hospital again for a blood clot caused by the surgery. again, my focus was on things other than grooming and i began to wonder if people were noticing my peach-fuzz scruff. she came home from the hospital on july 1st. after one day at home, she started gushing blood, and we rushed her to the emergency room. after dealing with an incompetent er doc for many hours, she was transferred and admitted to our hospital, returning to the very same room in which she has recouped post-op. on july 4th we watched the fireworks looking sideways out of the window in the hallway of the hospital. i hadn’t shaved in two weeks and because my beard only grows from the lower parts of my face/neck, it was looking a little gross.
on july 5th, both lisa and our daughter came home. i shaved the sides of my face and neck, but decided to keep the goatee, vowing not to shave it until lisa was fully restored to health. on july 9th she needed her blood drawn and due to a weird paperwork mixup, she needed to return to the hospital to have it done. we couldn’t even go a week without seeing this place! lisa went to see her primary care doc on july 11th to catch him up on what’s been going on. then on july 13th, she had another surgery follow up. once again, she was sent to the er! i couldn’t even bring myself to tell anyone because i was so devastated. thank God, the potential new blood clot ended up being a bruise. she left the er in a couple hours without being admitted.
today is july 19th, one month after shaving last. tomorrow is another post-surgery follow up and it will have been seven days without seeing a medical professional, matching her previous record immediately post-op. if she can manage to stay out of the hospital, that will be a first. i see these both as potential milestones indicating the first trust-worthy steps of recovery.
i’m not going to shave just yet though…on thursday she has an appointment with a specialist that will be managing her blood thinners to prevent further clots. after that, there’s potential to finally beat the previous record for avoiding medical professionals. it will be the first time we can look at a step in her recovery and not say, “well, we’ve been here before.” it will be the first sign of safety, and i may just celebrate that moment with a shave. who knows, i may even work on some art in the meantime…
my son wanted his hair buzzed before graduation. as a laugh, i started by buzzing his hair into male pattern baldness, leaving his long curls on the sides and back. he thought it was hilarious and then surprised me by insisting he keep the haircut. his reasoning was simple:
i couldn’t convince him that it wasn’t a good idea to have an intentionally ugly haircut. why? probably because i didn’t really believe it. i called my wife for backup, and she took his side: “it’s summer…who cares?” admitting defeat, i asked him if i could leave the curls on the sides, buzz the back, and clean up the transition between the two.
my secondary concern is that the side curls resemble payot and i wouldn’t want people to feel he’s taking part in cultural appropriation. then again, punks have been appropriating cultural hairstyles for decades without specific critique. in the end, he loves his haircut and didn’t even get negative comments from kids at school, and that’s really all that matters.
i love his haircut now, too. it’s him and he’s my son!
“do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.” – leviticus 19:27