I'd left my family in France and flew by myself to London. I stayed by her bedside for three days preying she wouldn't die then I had to leave her and fly back to spend one last night in France before the long drive back home. I didn't want to leave her, yet I desperately wanted to be with my husband and children, to get some normalcy back in my life.
The following weeks were so strange. Me and my sister and my dad were thrown together for the first time in 20 years. We were muddling along, trying to be kind with each other, but each of us under tremendous strain, not knowing if my mum would survive. Stress, rage, guilt, frustration and travelling up to central London every other day didn't exactly help. I came to loathe London. It stank in the summer heat and in my altered state of sensory and emotional overload, London felt like a frightening place: filthy, noisy, dangerous, crowded.
The fourth week of her being in Intensive Care something flipped. I was incredibly angry. Furious. Rageful. But when you have young children who love their grandparent and are already wetting the bed and making up imaginary friends 'dying of a broken leg', what do you do? Having a breakdown wasn't an option.
So, on a whim, I resorted to something I now realise was an old strategy from my teen years. Something I'd do when it all got too much.
I dyed my hair.
WARNING: FURIOUS WOMAN COMING THROUGH.
The first immediate result was a fierce falling out with my dear 86 year old dad on Victoria Station, unearthing an argument pattern he and I haven't indulged in since I was at school. It went like this.
Me: I dyed my hair.
Dad: So I see. [Rolls eyes]. It looks alright actually.
Me: It'll wash out, but I'm just in the mood to experiment right now. Doing all the reds.
Dad: [Huffs] Why?! Your mum HATES all the reds!!
Me: [At volume] She DOES NOT hate all the reds! YOU hate all the reds!
Dad: [Nostrils flaring] She's ALWAYS hated you dying your hair! You've ruined it!
Me: [Hyperventilating] No Dad. It's YOU that's always hated me dying my hair. Well guess
what?! I'm 40 bloody 6 and you don't get to be the boss of me now! [Stomps off to get the
train leaving furious elderly arthritic father to limp after.]
Yep, good work. Like he really needed that when his wife of 50 year is in and out of a coma, having brain surgery and a drain for a collapsed lung. But it did sort of release a lot of pent up tension for the both of us. And he was right - I had ruined it.
I got bored with it almost immediately and tried to wash it out. It faded but left a wishy-washy peach colour that wouldn't budge. So I made mistake number two. I used a chemical stripper on my hair.
It went lime green. I wept.
The only thing I could do was cover it up, so I bought a horrible brown (brown!) semi permanent dye. It was heart breaking.
|At least it wasn't brown|
But I've learnt a lesson. Like an addict, two years clean, I fell off the wagon, lured into thinking that my old dying ways weren't that toxic, but of course, they are.
I have help at hand though - all these years on from first ditching the dye, there are products to help you dye your hair silver and blend in the growth coming through. See this Good advice from Schwarzkopf.
I've used a couple of products I'm really happy with.
|Good range of shades|
As my natural colour is coming through, I remembered that I have a much darker streak at the front and underneath at the back. I wanted to continue using the Bblonde but tint the bleached hair with a darker grey. I found this:
|Good range of colours|
I have also finally found a lovely hair dresser who totally got what I'd done and how much I regret it. She's going to 'go on the journey' with me, which is exciting in itself.
But this story doesn't have a bad ending.
My darling mum has made a miraculous full recovery! In only a few months, she was back at home and getting stronger and stronger. She's now back at her choir, flower arranging, helping readers at the local school and has taken up pilates! How bonkers is that?!
Although I'm annoyed at myself for ruining my hair, every time I look at it, all I can think is SHE DIDN'T DIE. And that helps to remind me - it is, at the end of the day, just hair...
|Death - you can DO ONE!|