Dear Lily June,
It doesn’t seem fair to end it there. My “Bond” post needs a postscript. So here goes.
I’ve always loved my mother’s red hair. It doesn’t matter to me that it’s been dyed, has always been since she started graying in her late teens. It has always, for as long as I’ve been alive, been the color of fire’s dying embers. When I was younger, it had been as intoxicating to stare into as the deep brick hue of her curtains. Imagine the secrets they hid from the neighbors as to the violence going on in that bedroom. Her hair created the same mystery to me as to what went on in my mother’s mind. I think of Nijinsky’s words:
“God is a fire in the head.”
While you were being born, Lily, I was stuck in the hospital for almost a week, laying in the same bed night after day, sweating into the sheets all the pain and confusion of the troubles with your delivery at the end. My hair became a cruel eggless nest, a series of knots and tangles exhausting just to look at, a labyrinth’s intentionally unruly hedge.
For hours, without having even been asked, my mother sprayed de-tangling solution into the mess and worked her wrist over and over through it, trying to give my mane some semblance of having once, ever, been tamed. She brushed it until it must have tired her muscles, enraged the arthritis in her shoulders and neck. She never complained. I’ve rarely had a moment with her be so tender.
Everywhere your father and I go with you today, people stop and stare. “Look at the baby with all the hair,” they exclaim. And it’s true. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: For an almost eight-month-old, you still have a lustrous and beautiful brunette mop.
It fortunately hides the unfortunate fact that you also have cradle cap, have had since you were just a heart-sized body lolling in my lap. Every so often, I take out baby oil and massage it into the near-microscopic scales that form in your scalp. I run a comb ever so gently over the area and tiny flakes of white–like snow kicked up in a gust–come trickling up.
I do this over and over for you, snuggling into your warmth while I comb and comb. No matter what you might think reading this when you’re older, Lily, to me, it is an act of pure love.
Our lives get twisted into one another’s as if the generations were physically braided together. And between her fire and my nest and your scales, it’s up to each of us to admire and tend to one another. It is a privilege to be my mother’s daughter. It is an honor to be your mother.
- “William paxton1” by William Paxton – http://alabaster1.tumblr.com/page/12. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:William_paxton1.jpg#/media/File:William_paxton1.jpg