I’ve thought about washing your lock of hair- it’s a large one- for about a week now. I went so far as to take it out of the bag, put two of Audrey’s ponytail holders around the middle so it doesn’t come apart, and sit it on top of the bag by our bathroom sink.
I see it every time I brush my teeth or go in the bathroom…sometimes I touch it. It’s lost the strong odor it had when I first took it out of the little velvet bag handed to me discreetly by the funeral director. I thought that odor was the smell of embalming at first- then the smell of the lake water where you died, then later decided it was the smell of your body- which had been through so much. Your funeral was not until ten days after you had died. I am glad the smell is gone. I think also, that just by leaving your hair in the bathroom, some of the stiffness has come out and it’s softened a bit from the humidity during showers. I’m glad of this too.
I wanted to feel this lock of hair and remember what your hair felt like. It was always such a point of tension for us actually. I loved how boyish you looked with short hair- which was how you looked when we first met. You wanted to grow your hair long and put it half-way up, “like a sumo-wrestler” you said. Right before Audrey was born, you let it grow and grow- and finally we donated it to Locks of Love because I begged you to cut it. I hate how tightly it was pulled back in a ponytail and thought your hairline started to look like it was receding. I’d always told you on the list I’d made in college (something Christian girls do- very silly actually) of the qualities I’d wanted in my husband, “not bald” had been on there. Well, be careful what you wish for girls- he was not bald at all- he had tons of hair- thick black hair which somehow, even though it was constantly falling out- just kept growing and getting thicker. I was constantly complaining that it was all over the bathroom floor. “You’ll be happy when I leave,” you’d say this past year before going away when I complained about it. I am so sorry for this. And now I search for them- hoping to find a stray one in our room on the floor- which I have yet to vacuum.
I also asked for a husband who was a musician- which I also got – and which also became a major point of tension for us. He was not just “musical,” he was a musician- striving to do this for a living. I think I had just been asking for some guy who played the guitar and sang- but as usual, I got more than I bargained for- a genius who was determined to do what he knew how to do best.
Well, I don’t think I’ll be washing the lock of hair.
I’m afraid that too much of it will wash away, down the drain or the feel of it as a lock will be ruined and it’ll just be a bunch of loose hairs by the time I’m finished. I want it to smell fresh and clean- I want to redeem some of what happened to you- but it’s like the grief itself. I hate it, but I hang on to it. The counselor says, “It’s all you have left.”