I just got my hair cut really short to get rid of the last of the colored part up top. Like many women, I recently stopped coloring my hair but it was less about the pandemic and more to try to eliminate the dry itchy scalp I have from years of harsh products. I have no political statement or cultural commentary to make, it simply was a practical matter. I have been lucky to have T as my colorist – I bought whatever was on sale at CVS and he carefully applied it; it was always pretty easy given that my hair was never long. I liked coloring my hair: it provided me with a bit of a creative outlet; I never had the nerve to go green or purple but I often had a nice reddish tint or golden highlights, a small window of self-expression to offset the t-shirts and sweatpants, the generally frumpy look I’ve adopted over the past several years.
So there’s no judgement at all, no sense that one way is better than the other. I’m still getting used to looking older. I don’t have some great sense of relief, I certainly don’t feel better than those who color, it simply is what it is. And I thought I’d like to do it while i’m still more pepper than salt and let the grays keep coming.
Getting older sure beats the alternative. Ruby took the Rainbow Bridge on Wednesday. On Thursday T did a final sweep and mop of the floor and threw out the rest of her kibble. I’ll donate cans of food if the animal shelter will take them, as well as the unopened bottle of doggie Advil from Chewy (which they refunded since they arrived on the day she was put to sleep).Taking care of the physical details of her end of life is far simpler than the emotional part, the enormous sense of loss and sadness that comes with losing a loved one.
This morning I woke up and had my coffee sitting on the sofa staring at the piano that never gets played but that was the spot where her beds were (she had two at the end, just to give her some variety since she spent most of the day sleeping). Then I go to the mirror and stare at the new look of grey and brown and the ongoing appearance of creases and wrinkles that get more pronounced with each year. I don’t stay for too long because frankly I’ve stopped looking in the mirror much as I’ve aged. I try to accept that this is part of life. It helps to think of my mother, my aunts and great aunts, my grandmother – to remember all the beautiful older women in my life. Eventually it happens to all of us. Aging gracefully can be a challenge: things stop working, slow down, like Ruby we can struggle just to get up and move about. Aging gratefully is a bit easier: I walk away from the mirror and the piano, I sit and close my eyes and breathe in and out, in and out, equal parts grief and gratitude, trying to focus on what remains, to simply be happy for so many great memories and to be alive to savor them.