Most days it’s pretty difficult to convince myself to get up out of bed. It’s even more difficult to convince myself to go out in public. It’s nearly impossible to convince me to go out on my own. With how sick I feel my energy is not where I’d prefer. Then there’s the fact that I deal with significant hair loss and one more piece of my self-confidence takes a hit. Add the vasculitis rashes I deal with and it’s downright hard to feel like I’m presentable let alone pretty.
One of the ways I combat all those negative feelings about my appearance is how elaborate I make my headscarves. It’s become a bit of a trademark for me. The more bling I can add the better. I’m constantly searching for new ways to wrap and braid my scarves. My thought has been if I’m gonna feel like people will stare at how sick I am I might as well make myself something worth looking at. In short, my headscarves and wraps are rarely subtle. It’s a small thing but it has come to mean a lot to me.
So, when I was accosted a few weeks ago while I was alone in public because of my headscarves it’s easy to see how affected I was emotionally by that. The man who accosted me was clearly not someone who knew sense in any intimate fashion but that did not lessen my anger or hurt. Some may have decided it would be safer to stop making such noticeable headscarves and wraps. That would help ensure I would not have to deal with that uncomfortable and dangerous situation. In typical April Beth fashion I chose to do the opposite. It only ensured that I would be even more fervent in how frequently I wore my headscarves.
Today at lunch I had the urge to go to Walmart and look for some more accessories for my headscarves. I mentioned to my Mom that I wanted to go after lunch. She looked at me as I would have looked at her if she had said she wanted to go to Walmart. She was not thrilled. I told her I’d go on my own. I had more energy today and I knew what I was looking for. I hate going to crowded places looking so sick but for some strange reason I really wanted to go this time.
As I was walking towards the accessories I walked past two sisters. They looked to be around their mid-thirties and they were looking at scarves. One of them was clearly unwell, wearing a bandana, and tears were streaming down her face. Not wanting to disturb this hard moment I walked quietly by. That is, I walked until I heard the other sister say, “Excuse me Miss?” I turned around. The young woman continued, “Um, how did you do that?”
Understanding I replied, “My headscarves? Would you like me to show you?” The sister who had been crying slowly looked up and said “You would do that?” I told her I’d do it right now in the bathroom. I quickly told them what supplies they’d need. It takes a bit to give the Illusion that you have hair underneath those scarves. After picking up two scarves, a faux bun, bobby-pins, and a headband. I waited by the bathroom as they made their purchase. We went into the bathroom and I unwrapped my headscarves. I started showing them what I put together under the scarves and while we got her faux bun attached another woman walked into the bathroom and started watching us.
“What are you doing?” she asked. “I’m showing them how to tie some headscarves.” “Can you hold on one minute?” the new woman inquired.
She stepped out and a short while later she was followed by another woman wearing a hat. The hat wearer said, “I just lost my hair and my friend got me this scarf but I couldn’t figure out how to tie it.”
“No problem. Pull up a mirror. I’ll teach you both.”
Soon a few more women wandered in and saw what was happening. There we stood a collection of sick woman tying scarves while the well women cheered us on and ooo’d and awed over our creations. I must admit that I started crying a bit. These women both talked about how difficult thinking about showing up to their respective Christmases looking as sick as they did. They’d both come to the store drug in by friends and family to search for something to make them feel beautiful, all the while internally feeling like that was impossible.
The sister told me that she wouldn’t have had the nerve to stop me but I was alone and she thought I might be more understanding. How thankful I am that I went alone today.
As we finished up my tutorial I gave them all my info and several YouTube channels that I found helpful when I was first learning. The women expressed a want to go and buy some more accessories for their headscarves and I said, “Well, that’s what I was headed to do to start with.” As we made our way back into the store I heard one of the ladies tell their husband how much better they felt about Christmas. That husband came up to me and said. “Pick anything you want out. You made my wife smile and that’s the first time in weeks she has. You just gave us our Christmas back. Let me give you some in return. Merry Christmas.”
I cried some more and picked out a pretty flowered headband. As we all made our way to the check out the cashier asked us where we all met. We replied, that we met here, just now. Laughing and hugging we left to each go on to our own lives.
But as I sat in my car preparing to leave I took a moment to wonder over the nudging of the Holy in my life. Of all the things I hate and worry over, of all the little silly things I do to try to feel good, it took both to bring a little Christmas to the world today. I’m so happy I’m stubborn enough to wear my crazy scarves and I’m so thankful that the Divine took something so difficult and made it so beautiful.
That’s Christmas, oh so difficult, oh so beautiful. Thanks be to God.