My four year old daughter is losing her hair. Again.
Last year, three months after Cricket was hospitalized for pneumonia, I noticed a large, smooth bald spot above her left ear. And proceeded to freak out. It was heartbreaking. She had no idea what was going on, but my mind was awash in all the burdens of a girl’s life without hair. My girl.
A specialist told us that she had alopecia areata – hair loss in one spot caused by her pneumonia and high fever. She also developed all-over hair thinning. But, over the course of eight months, it all grew back, and the prognosis was good that this was just a one-time episode.
But for the past month I’ve been seeing all-over hair thinning again. I’m again freaking out. Like any mother, I want my daughter to be perfectly healthy and not experience any ounce of pain in her life. When she’s a teenager, so the experts tell me, she will start to really understand her adoption story and will feel a deep sense of loss. I don’t want her to have any physical issue as well.
So, I’ve been praying that she will have a thick head of hair her whole life, that she will not bounce from doctor to doctor and from one medication to another.
But I really do not feel worthy of God granting me any special request, especially after reading Psalm 26.
I felt like I was kicked me in the head, especially verses 6 and 8: I wash my hands in innocence and go about your altar; I love the house where you live.
Now, I know God’s house and altar can be interpreted to mean anywhere and anything, but it hit home that I do not go to church often enough. The problem is that I am in search of a physical church to call home. The church where I was married and my daughter was baptized (St. Mary’s) is in another city since we moved, and it seems impossible to get there on time.
But I know the real problem. Every time I enter most churches I cry.
Bear with me the memories of going to Church:
One Father’s Day when I was in my early 30′s, the Priest was talking about all that a father does or should do. It hit me then (although I don’t know why it took me so long to really admit) that my father really wasn’t a great father to me. He tried his best and I love him for that. I understand his own struggles. But because of his childhood history, he couldn’t take care of me the way a father should. He was an alcoholic. Please, don’t ever underestimate the long-lasting affects a parent’s alcoholism can have on a child. I’m 48, my father has been deceased for almost ten years, and I still struggle with my issues derived his drinking.
That Father’s Day in Church, I started to cry (feeling badly for myself, I acknowledge) and left the church. For a long time, being in Church reminded me of my father’s failings and my life without a daddy-like dad. [Oh snap out of it you might be saying. But that's just where I was at the time and I guess I needed to go through a period like that in order to heal. Which I did. And I did.]
One Mother’s Day in my early forties our Priest asked the community to pray for all of those for whom Mother’s Day is filled with sadness and struggles. He was talking about me. He knew I was grieving the pain of not being able to conceive a child. His humanity and kindness overwhelmed me. I cried, blubbered really.
I couldn’t walk into St Mary’s for almost a year.
When I did, it was a year later, again on Mother’s Day, again at St. Mary’s. My husband brought our daughter Cricket to Church for the first time, and it was my first Mother’s Day. On the way to church I received a text from Cricket’s birthmother wishing me a happy Mother’s Day. I was shaken. I cried through the whole service. Imagine her contacting me on such day, during which (I assumed) she would be grieving and wanting to be alone with her own thoughts and emotions.
And now, every time I go to St Mary’s I well up the moment I enter. There always seems to be a Baptism or First Holy Communion ceremony taking place during the service. When I see a tiny baby being held by our Priest I have to hold back the tears. Mostly because it’s such a beautiful moment, but also because I can’t help but think how badly I want another child, how Cricket should have a sibling, how I wasn’t able to conceive a child, how my body just doesn’t work the way it should.
I know this sounds pretty pathetic and that I am feeling badly for myself and my history. But I realize that I need to go to Church, need to be part of a community of believers, need to put my money where my mouth is. How can I expect God to grant any special request to me, such as a permanent reversal to Cricket’s hair loss, unless I start acting like a child of a king and showing up at his house for Sunday dinner?
Psalm 26 sent me on a soul-searching mission. I can’t believe how much came out of 2 verses of scripture (then again, I shouldn’t be surprised anymore). I feel some old scars beginning to heal. There really is no turning back now. I know what I have to do. I just have to sit there and cry. Cry on purpose. Not for the bumps in my life. I’ll cry for the beauty and miracles in my life. Tears of joy and thanks for God leading me to Psalm 26. A wandering daughter returning home, anticipating the tears, without mascara.