When I was a little girl
I never had a little curl
Before my little sister and I could independently bathe, dress and groom ourselves, we had mom help us. Hair brushing time was the worst for my sister. I had pin straight hair, so I was in and out. My sister appeared to have soft, wavy hair. The disguise hid the kinky curls at the nape of her neck. I could never understand the tearful struggle that occurred every morning.
Over the years, I tried various ways to make my hair curly. At some point in my life, my hair gave in. Now, I have a mess of corkscrew curls and guess what? Yep! Now I miss my straight hair, but I’m not complaining. First world problems. It could be worse.
Vicky and I started working at the bookstore on the same day. She annoyed me with her pep and cheer. Her mission in life was to make the surliest customer talk to her. In my mind, I called her “little miss know it all”. My boss scheduled Vicky and I to work every shift together. I hated it.
Vicky and I gradually started talking. When the sun is shining on Saturday, and customers aren’t patronizing your store, boredom wins. One day, I brought up the subject of my bad hair. For a second, she looked wistful. She told me that she used to have beautiful hair. To me, her hair looked fine. It was short, brown and neat. I told her as much.
She retrieved her wallet and pulled out her driver’s license. The picture revealed a blonde mane that would have made Farrah Fawcett jealous. She told me that she would spend hours fixing it. I was annoyed and confused. Then Vicky did something that made my jaw drop. She removed her wig. She was completely bald. She explained that she had breast cancer and was seeking treatment. The cancer went into remission and Vicky’s hair grew back straight and grey. She never complained.
I immediately gained respect for her because of her positive attitude. She told me that she needed it for her twin boys, who were 6. She also told me that she needed to be strong for her husband. I told her that it should be the other way around.
Vicky and I became close friends. She told me that “Ken” was emotionally abusive. That also shocked me as he was always attentive and caring when I visited. She explained that she wished they could always have visitors. When the house was empty, he ignored or berated her. For those of us who have been or are still there, we know how that goes.
Vicky’s cancer returned in her lungs. Her doctor said that it was terminal. Ken’s abuse became worse. She told me how he cocked his fist back to hit her. She emphasized to him that the blow better kill her or she would kill him in his sleep. She had nothing to lose. She was already dying. Four months later, she was dead.
I went to the funeral home. Her boys were so stoic. Ken’s eyes were red and he was visibly upset. I was so confused, and still am. I had so many questions. Was he faking his sadness? Did he love her? Did he hate her? What the Hell? What the Hell? Instead, I just offered my condolences. Ken said that Vicky wanted me to have something and to stop by. I never did. I never wanted to see him again. He never sent it. Fifteen years later, I still don’t know what it is.
Vicky would have turned 59 on August 9. I miss her. She was a dear friend.