Tuesday, August 10, 2004


July 25, 1999
If anyone is going to the Tel Aviv area on Wednesday and would be willing to deliver Timmi's wig to the wigmaker in Ramat Gan for some further work, please let me or Don know. And if there is anyone who would be able to return it from Ramat Gan Thursday afternoon, ditto. If we're not in, you can leave a message on our voice mail with your name and number.
Thanks very much!

August 10, 2004
This morning, I peeked into my 14-year old daughter Aimee’s room. She was sleeping peaceful, holding (as she always does) the stuffed lion that my sister’s officemates sent to Timmi during her first bout with cancer. The sun was shining in, and she was glowing radiantly – not only because of her beautiful, calm face but also because of her bright pink hair! What has she done to herself? I cried internally. Her hair was so beautiful the way it was! But then I remembered…

Timmi lost her long blonde hair the first time when she was just 12, in the middle of the very aggressive course of chemotherapy that she was undergoing in anticipation of her first bone marrow transplant. When her hair first started coming out, she had it cut short. But when it started getting all over her clothes and then into her food, we decided to take matters into our own hands. I called my hair stylist and asked him to come to the hospital with an electric shaver. He came and “took it all off” – although the idea clearly freaked him out. What we found underneath was an absolutely beautifully shaped head – much admired by the nurses and by the other pediatric cancer patients. We also found that taking off her hair accentuated her eyes and her lovely chiseled features. She decided that she would not wear a wig, but would remain “au naturel,” seeing as she looked so good that way. At the time, Sinead O’Connor and some other celebrities were showing off the shapes of their skulls, so she was really the height of fashion. For variety, though, she went out and bought several hats.

Reactions when she left the hospital were often quite funny. Once, a girl sitting behind her at the movies leaned forward and whispered, “How did you dare?” Another time, on a visit to Florida, she went to use the restroom at a mall. A woman came in as she was washing up, looked at her and said, “This is the Ladies’ Room!” “I am a Lady,” our daughter-of-the-snappy-answers replied.

The father of a good friend of Timmi’s has been bald since his twenties, when his hair fell out for no apparent reason. The first time we ran into him after the events of which I speak, she snatched off the hat she was wearing, and pointed animatedly at her head. “Look! I joined the club!”

Timmi’s hair started growing back after the transplant. But because of the anti-rejection drugs she was taking, it came in lifeless and mousy. She was, of course, very upset, but then decided that she would just have it colored. She dyed it a coppery red; I was surprised at the fact that despite the fact that she was naturally blonde, she looked good as a readhead as well. But the real surprise came when she stopped taking the medicine and her “real” hair came back in. It was the most beautiful hair I have ever seen – baby-fine but thick, wavy to curly – and almost exactly the same color that she had dyed it!

We have a collage she made, of four photographs of herself. Timmi as a curly blonde girl, Timmi with a perfect head unencumbered by hair, Timmi with the short colorless hair that came in right after the transplant and, in the center – a radiant fifteen-year-old Timmi with long, thick, wavy auburn hair. Perhaps one day, if I ever decide to "come out" in this blog as myself, I will publish that picture.

When she relapsed, Timmi once again lost her hair. This time, though, it was no longer any fun. All this hair stuff – all this cancer stuff – should have been behind her. She was not interested in sticking out, just when her life had started to bear some resemblance to a normal one. So we had a wig made for her, a natural auburn wig with which she was able to go out without anyone asking her any questions. She had it for the rest of her life, and after she died we donated it to an organization supporting children with cancer and their families.

Aimee, color your hair pink or any other color you want. I thank God that you have it, and that I still have you.


Sarah said...

A very moving post. It made me want to give Aimee a hug, and I don't even know her.

Noa said...

Welcome to the blogosphere...I hope you will finding blogging as therapeutic as I do. Best wishes for you and your family.