Under her wig, Sam has a head of short, soft wavy curls.
“You look beautiful.”
I say as I stand behind her at the entrance to her little en-suite that Peter built her.
She is looking at her reflection in the mirror, running a comb through the curls.
“Thankyou,” she responds her eyes meeting mine in the glass.
“You could go without the wig now?” I suggest, unsure if I dare.
“I could, but to me, its not me, I should have long hair!”
She lifts the wig off the toilet lid and pulls it in place as she has for the last year. A little tug downwards at the back, then adjusting the front and a sidewards turn to check that its evenly positioned.
“Oh well,” she shrugs, “it’ll just take time.”
I have no words. Instead my mind flashes back six months and I see her in her hospital bed with oxygen pipes in her nose.
I see the dents the cords have made pressing on the swollen flesh of her cheeks.
I see where her eyebrows once were.
I see her eyelids that are puffy and sore, and closed.
I look with regret at where her eyelashes had once danced in flirtatious motion. They are gone as well.
I look at her face and its covered with GVHD of the skin.
“You’ve come so far, “ I answer, even though it wasn’t a question.
As I look at her reflection, I can see all the ages she’s been.
I can see her propped like a tripod in front of the 80s style mirrored robes we had when she was a baby.
I can see her at 2 in front of my mother’ cedar robe rubbing face cream on her chin.
I can see her standing on the bathtub at 5 to see how she looked in her school uniform.
I can see her at 8 in her leotard practising her demi-plie before ballet class and then
I can see her at 13, unravelling the rollers for a ‘perm-for-a-day.’
I see her having her ‘colours done’ for her 15th Birthday and discovering she is ‘a summer.’
Then at MAC a year after that having a makeover in Paddington.
I see her trying on formal dresses and academic gowns, always the same self assured grin.
She always had a fairly good self- esteem. God knows I told her often enough ‘you are beautiful,’ against my mother’s warning that it might go to her head.
The years flash before me and though there are many faces, it is just one face and it’s the face that I have loved and kissed for 22 years. I know what she means about her reflection because apart from at 1 when her hair was still growing and at 5 when she had it all cut into the cutest bob, my daughter has always had long hair. And so I acknowledge that she is right, “it will just take time.”
Like Bob Graham writes, “A loose feather can’t be put back but a broken wing can sometimes heal. With rest and time and a little hope, a bird may fly again.”
Today I attended a Birthday celebration for a precious friend. She asked that we did not bring presents and instead her invitation told the story of the women in Watoto Village.
It read “Watoto is a place of refuge in Gulu, Northern Uganda where homes have been built for war affected women and children. Child brides who have managed to escape the LRA are at times found and brought into this place of refuge where they are cared for, given love and counsel to try and restore health and dignity after they have been raped, abused and at times, tortured by disfigurement to prevent them running away. Many of these women have had noses, lips and ears cut off and see in the mirror everyday a reminder of the nightmare that they have lived.”
As I listened to my friend speak this morning, one statement stuck in my mind. She said, “These women are our sisters, we just have not met them yet. If we had met them we would do whatever we could to help them.”
I thought of the people who have gathered around me since my precious daughter got ill with cancer. I am so grateful for all the people who have cried with me and prayed for us. I am indebted to people who heard our story, maybe strangers who somehow found me through my blog and began to care about me as I shared our battle direct from my heart.
I have watched the statistics graph on my blog register the ‘clicks’ each week and I have wondered what to do for all these readers. I wonder why you keep coming back to the words of my journal. Some of you are friends but others, I guess just found me by chance? An average day sees 105 visitors to ‘girl on a swing.’
Today my dream is that we could partner for a greater cause. We are all women, wives, daughters, sisters, girlfriends and mothers (apart from you lovely men who also stop by to read occasionally).
It costs about $3000 to restore someone’s smile and bring back dignity. Imagine if that was your daughter in Uganda with no ears, no eyes and no lips. I know the agony it has been for me to see my daughter lose sight of who she was but she will be fully restored. This is possible in our nation because we have great doctors, a high standard of living, resources, community and wealth.
If every reader this week gave $10, we could restore the faces of two women and give them some hope for the rest of their lives.
Like Sam says, “It will take time.” But wouldn’t it be amazing to share our hope. Please consider if you can make a direct deposit, the following non-profit account is available.
LET’S FACE IT
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
ACC NO: 240749