First Her Face, Then Her Hair

. . . Alexis' hair was a mat of dark, dried blood with beads of glass slowly spilling from it when the nurses moved her. Little pieces of blonde hair stuck out of the mat, reminding us of what had been. In the hospital, there was a lot of talk about what to do with her hair. The nurses considered washing it or said maybe we would have to cut it off. They never got around to deciding, though. Alexis withdrew from this life and pretended she was in another. She spoke only to ask for her family and to go home. Alexis refused to open her eyes, to talk to anyone, to move, to urinate or to eat. Concerned that she was getting worse, not better, the hospital let her go with her hair a bloody mess. We gladly took her home, grateful to clean it up ourselves.

Alexis' first morning home her Dad and I tried to rescue her hair. She had already lost her face. We couldn't stand for her to lose any more. I sprayed a whole bottle of de-tangler on her hair and slowly worked out each knot. The bloody liquid fusion dripped on the floor and covered my hands. The process was painful, each stroke pulling on Alexis' wounds. Alexis was stoic. In the end, we cut out only one tiny knot.

Once the coagulated blood mat was gone we washed her hair. Her Dad ran the water bucket and I shampooed. At first the water flowed red, but slowly it lightened to pink and finally clear. We had saved her hair. Silently, I sighed with relief. The unspoken truth hanging around the adults was our belief that she needed the long hair to hide her scarred face.

. . . Alexis' face is healing slowly, always painfully. Glass still comes out of it and the severed facial nerve still burns. Nothing is the same but I was wrong about Alexis' hair. She doesn't need it to hide her face. Alexis is strong and beautiful.