Well, today started like any other friday in the salon. A beautiful crisp sunny Oct morn in NC. I greeted my first client with a warm hello, she sat down in the styling chair and I immediately sensed her mood was somber. I actually sensed her mood as I saw her walking up the walkway to the salon. I've had this super power since I was a wee one. I am a mood whisperer. Not always helpful in life and relationship, more on that later. Anyhoo...onward. I asked her how she was and she let out a tremendous sigh...."well I've been better she stated, it's been a trying week" I said I was sorry to hear that and waited a moment to see if now was the time she wanted to give details. It wasn't. She went on to say how she liked her hair and thought it could just use a little color to cover the gray and a shape up. We discussed what our beautification plan was and I made her comfortable with tea and a magazine as I fetched her special hair color formula from the color room. Knowing full well as she relaxed she would most likely open up about her week.
In the color room I mixed her formula and tried to breathe and center myself as my week had been trying as well. At 10:00 am I was doing my best not to wish the day away. What I longed for was some silence, alone time. To rest my overactive mind. But, I wanted to stay present and be attentive to the needs of my clients today. Some days this job is really hard. I had already seen over 20 clients this week and each one came in with a mood, a story, and a bag full of needs. Some more full than others.
I won't go into major detail but as I applied her color my client revealed that 3 people who were fairly close to her had died this week. A 21 yr old college student whom she had befriended in the neighborhood as he had attended the same high school as her daughter. They shared a love of cooking and had coffee and chats on occasion about what he would do with his future. He was house sitting in a European country when his parents lost contact with him. They flew out of the country to find him. Instead they found a note on the outside door of the home he was staying in that said, do not enter, call 911. Tragically he had taken his own life.
The husband of a dear friend of my clients had also decided to end his own life this week, as he suffered on and off over the years with depression. My client had lunch with her the week before and said she was the most optimistic she had seen her in a while. The tears flowed.
The third was the father of a childhood friend who was dancing at a wedding the week before he died of a heart attack.
We sat and cried and talked then didn't talk. We shook our heads and tried to find answers. I tried to get philosophical and realized it was not the time. I needed to just listen and allow my client a safe space to just weep. Let her hair down and leave some sorrow behind. She did. 2 hrs later she left with fresh hilites a shape up and a little lighter load.
This is what I do. We do - as hairstylist. - Hairapists. We provide a sacred space for folks to be. To let their hair down.
It was noon now and I still have 3 more clients to go. It's always the days that look easy on paper that end up getting ya. I can't say I did great at staying present today. There were times I almost lost it. I looked cool as a cucumber on the outside but inside I knew how far behind I was running. I had rearranged a few appointments today as to make room for someone who needed to get in to see me before the weekend. One of the clients who agreed to come in early was late. This threw my whole day off, which led to me eating lunch standing up while simultaneously checking my voicemail. I hate those days. My last two clients showed up at the same time, as the third who was late, was still at the desk taking down my address so she could send me a check since she had forgotten her check book when she rushed out of the office. I needed to pee.
I took a deep breath excused myself to the ladies room and peed. A long pee. A head in my hands kind of pee. Washed my hands for a long time and took another deep breath as I reentered the scene.
Both of my last two clients had lost their husbands. One, 10 yrs ago. One, 5 months ago. The first came in to the salon 10 yrs ago at my first salon with her arm in a sling. She was accompanied by a girlfriend which at the time I thought was a bit odd. I was in the middle of a busy day and as she sat down in the reception area, I turned to her from behind the chair told her I would be with her just as soon as I could. I said gosh what happened to your arm she lifted her head and said "a car accident". I said "wow, I hope that was the worst of it" and finished up with the client in my chair. Later as she sat and weeped in my chair she recounted the story of the previous week. Her 8 yr old son had been invited to a sleepover so she and her husband decided to try a new mexican restaurant in town for dinner. Her husband drove. He never saw the car coming as he made the left hand turn into busy traffic. He was killed instantly. She learned of the tragic news as she lay recovering from her injuries in the hospital. She does not remember the accident.
My client said she wanted to keep her appointment with me because she needed things to be as normal as possible and she knew I would take good care of her. My heart still breaks thinking back to this day. Her son is doing well in his first year of college. Today she brought me a pumpkin spiced latte. As we colored her once mousey gray hair we chatted and laughed and she told me about the dating site she had recently signed up for. Yay, for her. The anti- depressants are working.
My last client as been coming to see me for almost 15 yrs. She started with me the month after I moved to NC. Her partner was diagnosed with cancer in Nov and died in Feb at 53. She is recovering and never misses an appt. She is the client who I needed to rearrange my schedule for. Today was a good day for her. Time is healing her.
One day maybe these two women will meet at the salon, share stories and encourage one another.
Moral: Time is precious, life is short. Everything is impermanent. Be in the moment and give what and when you can.