I’m having surgery on my head this coming Friday. Six incisions. Most all of the hair on top of my head has to be shaved off plus a patch above my ear and another spot on the back of my head. It sounds way worse than it actually is. Had I taken care of my situation 10 years ago, I wouldn’t be staring down the business end of a #2 guard on my clippers. My surgeon advised the most prudent thing would be for me to take all of my hair off. So much has to come off the top center that leaving unshaved portions would be ridiculous at best. When I talked with my hairdresser, I told her I needed to make an appointment to have her shave my head the day before the surgery.
She told me no. Absolutely not. She’d clean it up post-op, but the actual shaving would be something I do *for myself*.
Head shaving is an emotional operation. It is not a time to surrender my emotions to the salon and everybody in that day. It will be cathartic. I need to own it.
As with most adults, I’ve been to several funerals and burials. When I arrive at the cemetery, the hole is open and everything is set and ready for a quick abdication of life into earth. Prayers, grief, hugs, casket into prepared hole, and we’re off to lunch. It’s a swift symphony practiced to the Nth degree by all end-of-life professionals.
Things are different in the UP. Rules are more… interpretive (?). This summer, I have the option to dig the hole for Z and Joe’s urns myself. Just like in the old-timey movies, the family goes early, does the digging and the filling. No prepped site, a DIY situation any of us would be wholly unprepared for.
I really struggle with this option. It is at once paralyzingly fearful and fittingly perfect. I brought this girl into the world with labor, I cared for him with my labor. I can put them back to the universe with labor. I can and do this last physical act on their behalf. I can sweat out the grief I’ll have pent up that day. I can bring my family along for that ride and we can work it out together.
Maybe digging the hole will be the actual catharsis I need in the burial rite. Maybe it will be a thousand degrees and I’ll wonder who made this dumb decision and why isn’t the professional there with his powered equipment.
Also maybe I’ve turned the proposed hole-digging transaction into a scene from an overly-dramatic ham-fisted movie assigned a “C” grade in Entertainment Weekly.
Whatever the case, I have plenty of opportunity for profound melodrama in the upcoming season. I really do have a need for a physical change to marker this time in my life and the universe is answering that in spades. My bald-headed self in a sweltering July cemetery digging a stupid hole for these stupid urns that I didn’t ask for. The picture itself is ridiculous beyond what I could have ever imagined.
And probably achingly cathartic. Which is something I need*.
Solidly 0 stars. Would not recommend.
*Dear universe: I also need to win a powerball. Since my life seems to be winning insane odds in tragedy, please ante in on that as well.