Hoping to share the love, joy, and grace I have received in my own life.

When Small Talk Isn’t So Small

on August 3, 2015

Ever since Trevor died (3 years, 7 months, & 25 days ago) going to get my haircut has been an extremely uncomfortable process.  I don’t have a regular stylist anymore.  Years ago, mine moved out of state and I never found someone to replace her.  I go to a variety of walk-in type salons and very rarely make appointments.  In doing this the past few years, I have only had two bad haircuts.  Those bad cuts are not the problem.  Hair grows back. The horribly uncomfortable conversation that always occurs during the haircut is the worst, even worse than my current (not-so-becoming) chop.

I appreciate the fact that these young women want to get to know their customers.  Other than one, they have all been friendly.  The question of how many children I have always comes up.  I know that this conversation will occur before I go to get my haircut.  In fact, I think that’s why I don’t make appointments.  Like other things that I decide I am not up to doing, if I made a hair appointment, the anxiety of having to deal with the conversation about my children would most likely lead to me cancelling the appointment all together.  This is one of those things that people that have not walked in my shoes wouldn’t ever think about.  Getting a haircut shouldn’t be this big of a deal, but it is.

I am anxious when I make the decision to get a haircut and am about to throw up when I walk into a salon.  I am in the chair, usually just a minute, and the first question comes…”Do you have children?”  I reply, “Yes” and the knot in my stomach tightens.  I don’t offer more information and the stylist probably assumes I am not much of a conversationalist.  The next question inevitably comes, “How many do you have?” In my head, I hear, “Deep breath, Dana, this is something you will always have to deal with.”  Meanwhile, my heart is pounding and aching at the thought of sitting in this chair and taking this conversation any further.  My dilemma is this…if I say I have three children, the next question is always, “How old are they?”  How do I answer that?  I usually say, “My daughters are 20 and 16.  My son died when he was 15.”  This always prompts, “Oh!  I’m sorry!  What happened?”  I do NOT want to have this conversation, sitting in a chair, talking with a person I have never met, when all around me people are listening to my gut wrenching story.  This is how it has been since Trevor died.  In fact, after his death, it was a long time before I even considered getting my haircut, just trying to avoid the whole ordeal.

These are the kind of circumstances that I still struggle with.  I dread getting my haircut.  I remember how it used to feel.  I enjoyed someone else washing and cutting my hair and most often felt fabulous when I left the salon, but those days are gone.  The conversations are so uncomfortable that I don’t ever want to go back to the same person again.  Chances are…they won’t remember me (understandable, since they see many people every day) and I will have to repeat the same conversation.

This weekend, I decided I would try a new answer to the dreaded question.  Amy was with me and the conversation began less than 2 minutes of my sitting in the chair. “How old is your daughter?”  I replied, “16.”  I instantly had a knot in my stomach and a pounding heartbeat.  I began silently praying this conversation would suddenly change to the weather or just focus on Amy.  Of course that wasn’t the case.  “Is she your only child?”  I felt like there was a long silence before I spoke.  I had thought this through in my head all morning.  I had decided to try a new response.  “I have another daughter that is 20.”  Whew!  I can do this.  Then comes the climatic question…”Are they your only two?”  I can feel tears building up and I do NOT want to deal with this.  I quietly responded, “Yes.”

There it is…the horrible moment that I denied my son.  Not acknowledging him left a horrible feeling in my heart.  I honestly thought, as I was trying to fall asleep that night, that I would return to the salon the next morning and if the same girl was working, I would admit my untruth.  I don’t want my children to ever think I would deny them.  Telling her that the girls were my only children has haunted me much more than any conversations I have had to have trying to talk about Trevor in these awkward situations.  It’s a good thing my haircut is short, because I can’t imagine I will be getting another one very soon.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to talk about my children.  It is an exciting time for us.  Megan is getting married next summer and Amy is starting a new and exciting school year.  If I could lead the conversation, I would just talk about the girls, but I know, inevitably, the question of other children would arise.  I am sure if you have not been immersed into life without one of your children, this seems like it is not such a big deal.  It is.  Something as simple as getting a haircut can be excruciating.  I know that I need to find a new stylist, one that is my own, that I can introduce myself to and tell about all three of my children in a private conversation and then say, “Please remember me.  It hurts me to have to go through this every time I get a haircut.”  Is that realistic though?

I want to talk about my children.  I talk about Trevor all of the time to people that know me and in this blog.  He was a wonderful son.  My girls are terrific daughters.  I love them all and know that God blessed me with the three best children for me.  I don’t want to ever deny my son.  I could easily have a conversation about what my girls are doing and not talk about Trevor.  I just can never, ever again act as if he didn’t exist.  My life is changed because of him.  Although it is heartbreaking and painful, I can also see the goodness and grace and mercy and hope in my life that I didn’t see before his death.

This is another example of how the little things become big things after the death of a child.  Something as simple as getting a haircut shouldn’t be this hard.  If you know me and see out and about in the coming few months, looking disheveled and shaggy, know that I am avoiding the haircut situation like the plague.  Maybe I’ll try to cut my own.


8 responses to “When Small Talk Isn’t So Small

  1. Cindy Marino says:

    Love you Dana …

  2. Trish says:

    Thanks for sharing. You should go to Kris Pierce here in Rochelle for your haircut.

  3. Susan says:

    I totally get this. From a different angle, but I get it. You should let me introduce you to Tara. She is the sweetest girl ever and would remember you. She remembers what Bob’s growing n his garden, remembers my dogs, remembers what I said was coming up and asks how it was on my next visit. We could make an appointment for the same time.

  4. Mike says:

    Dana, my challenge is explaining what I do now that I am retired. Can I just say “whatever I want to do”, or would they think less of me if I don’t say I’m volunteering at church, in service groups, doing productive things? This summer has brought me a new pastor, a new primary doctor, and a new barber. Gotta love change.

    • danacox31 says:

      Mike, can you say “I enjoy doing many things and nothing. I’m a retired school teacher.”? I sure wouldn’t judge you. Your years of service as a school teacher are a gift. I know that changes are sometimes difficult. Thank you for bringing to my attention that others have to face uncomfortable conversations, too. I know about many of the things you do and I am blessed to call you “Friend.”

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