As I worked diligently to finish before the bus arrived a woman approached us, “I don’t know who you are, where you are from, or what you are doing, but would you please give me a haircut?”
She went on to explain in a shaky voice that she had lost her house and her husband to cancer ten months ago. Carmelle was living in her van and was about to collect survivor benefits the next day.
“I just want bangs like I used to have and this weight off of my shoulders.”
How could I say no?
So she took her place on the rock. I warned her, “You know I’m not formally trained and the wind is blowing pretty hard.”
“Just do it. Please. I trust you.”
Each time I asked her for guidance she replied, “I trust you. Do what you think is right.”
In between the silence and her sharing her story of their loving marriage and her hard knocks, she would break into tears, “I can’t believe you are doing this for me.”
I took a big gulp as I cut four inches away from her eyes.
“You know I used to have dishwater blond hair. Can you see my roots?”
I could see her roots, the hardship of the years in her lined face, and the weight she was carrying being lifted with each inch I took off.
I gave her a final hug and a wish for a lighter new chapter that matched her hair. She crossed the parking lot, hopped back into her van, and took a peek into her rear view mirror. I held my breath.
Carmelle's wide smile and a big thumbs up are still clear in my mind.
So is the weight of her desperate request.
We all carry weight. Most of it is hidden from others; we feel it’s ours alone to bear. That impromptu haircut on the boulder showed me that we all can lift the weight of another. We both needed courage: she needed to step out of the van and ask; I needed to say yes and try.
Then came ease . . . connection . . . support . . . relief and an opening to new possibilities. How can you lift the weight of another? How can others support you?