This is Scorchy’s friend & blog sister Kathi. Today is Scorchy’s birthday. Yes, her birthday really is on Valentine’s Day, a day that will be forever bittersweet, because exactly three months ago, on November 14, 2017, Scorchy died of metastatic breast cancer. Last year was a wretched year for our friend, a year that included falls, pressure sores, hospitalizations, infections, delirium, hospice care, and several occasions when she appeared to be near death, only to pull back from the brink. But although Scorchy managed to elude death a number of times, she knew she couldn’t keep it at bay forever. And when she was lucid, she knew she had to plan for the end while she could. Part of that plan was to draft a few last blog posts. And then to ask me if I would post them for her if she didn’t get a chance to do it herself. This is one of them, drafted as near as I can tell in October, 2017, describing an incident that took place in late September, when finally, she got her hair washed by the nurses at the hospice facility, albeit in a somewhat unconventional manner.
“Darlin’, give me a head with hair, long beautiful hair
Shining, gleaming, steaming, flaxen, waxen
Give me down to there hair, shoulder length or longer
Here, baby, there, momma, everywhere, daddy, daddy
Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it, long as God can grow it, my hair”
— lyrics from the title song for ‘Hair,’ the musical
There is nothing quite so precious as clean hair that is cut well. Since I had been in the hospital since late February, 2017, I hadn’t had a clean head. I couldn’t afford to care, and was happy when I finally had the chance only three weeks ago to have it washed. Then last weekend my friend’s stylist came and cut it.
Happy as a clam, I am.
It is very hard to maintain good hygiene while in the in hospital. Especially when you can’t shower. My hair is washed in a bed pan which is pretty classy, but at least it’s clean, right?
Being in a place like hospice is very strange. Existentially it’s strange because there is no conscious recollection of what happened to me. Is that what the end of life is? Do you just pull the plug and go away? Is there some level of consciousness that is maintained somewhere? What does it all mean? All of these are questions on the continuum of life that can’t be easily answered, but with which we grapple on an almost daily basis.
I was informed that I had days to live. Some said hours. HOURS! Clearly I was having nothing to do with that timeline. I was going out on my terms.
With clean hair!