“Heads Up!” by Awara Fernández

Not a hair.
Not a hair.
Not one hair can fall from my head.

I was at the gravesite of my younger brother and only sibling, reciting familiar words, when I stumbled over this phrase, and my thoughts seized up while the catechism broke open and flowed on around me. Months earlier I was in the fight of my life, fighting for my life, during a three-week hospital stay which included critical care and the ICU. After I was released to continue my recovery at home, I was surprised and dismayed as my hair began to fall out in handfuls, webbing the couch, the car, my jacket, until I was rocking the Gollum look. And thus, with the incantation “telogen effluvium” instead of “open sesame,” I entered a whole new world filled with hat stores and support groups, at last finding myself dragging around an oxygen canister, sporting a curly gray wig that resembled a poodle.

I looked ridiculous, and I felt shame, hot and liquid, bubbling inside me.

“Not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my heavenly Father,” I read again, marveling at the sweetness of this sovereign love even as we buried my brother’s remains, and I sensed that David was chuckling, teasing me towards laughter as he asked from glinting shadow,

“Sis, what is on your head?”

Shame is tricky, elusive, isolating, a fitting inhabitant of my landscape of loss, an
unwelcome companion of my unmade soul, and we travel together through this alien country where even time is doing a full-tilt boogie, sliding now from B.C. (Before Covid), into A.D. (After David).

“Not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my heavenly Father.” This is the same Father whose own Son suffered shame on the Cross. In the face of His shame, Jesus held tightly to two weapons that surprise me.
Joy and scorn.
Seeing joy rushing towards Him fueled Him to scorn the shame.
He ridiculed it.

So, I dyed the tips of my hair purple.
My pastor-husband, eyebrows raised, asked, “What are you doing?”
“Scorning the shame,” I answered.
To his credit, he quit talking.
I look ridiculous, a fifty-nine-year-old gasping grandmother,
three-inch-long gray hair flashing purple, the color of
Advent longing,
Lenten emptying,
Royalty impending.

But this ridiculous, born of laughter, is effervescent, tickling my soul as I tease,

“See what’s on my head!”

*Heidelberg Catechism (1563), Question 1
Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?

A. That I am not my own, but belong — body and soul, in life and in death — to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.

*Hebrews 12:2
For the joy set before Him, He (Jesus) endured the cross, scorning its shame, and
sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Awara Fernández

Awara spent three weeks in the hospital with Covid, in Critical Care and the ICU, not expected to live. Three days after she was released to continue her recovery at home, her younger brother and only sibling, David, who had been hospitalized in another state, was released to go Home. Awara lives in Georgia with her husband of 34 years and their rescue dog, Gonzo.

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