'Bald Is Beautiful'

Last month was all about breast cancer... Posters and pink ribbons everywhere. Messages on Facebook.

Five years ago, one of my very young friends was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was just getting out from cancer #2... I mean, getting out of chemo #2. We talked a lot. She was very brave and recovered well.

A few months ago, she had great news to tell. She was pregnant. We all rejoiced. A new beginning after such a scare.

In September, she called me from Paris. Cancer was striking back and she was pregnant. Too early to give birth. Her oncologist decided to start chemo anyway. (This is how I learnt that far too many expectant mothers go through cancer and chemo during their pregnancy. So there are «special» chemos for them.)

I was worried of course. But my friend is a true fighter. She started chemo in France while her husband was working in a faraway country. Brave girl.

She called me not too long ago.

«Guess what? My hair has totally fallen out,» she said.

We had a good chuckle about it. Yes, I know it may sound strange... But this is the way we are. (And the topic of my post.)

«This means that your daughter will be more hairy than you when she’s born!» Now I feel really stupid of course... because I should have known better.

«Well, not really. She’s having chemo too, remember?» (Yes. For the past three months.)

My friend is a very pretty young woman with a beautiful and curly mane of hair. But I know she never felt bad when she lost her hair during chemo #1. She wanted so much to survive to care about it!

When they are told that cancer has struck (or worse - has struck back), most people kind of fall apart when they realize they may loose their hair, I know. And they should not. The problem is not theirs. It is in the eyes of the people they will meet.

Loosing your hair does not mean that you are sick. It means that you are fighting cancer with a treatment that is hopefully unkind towards cancer cells. Meanwhile your daily life and your physical appearance are quite disrupted. I’ve been through all this in one of my posts.

Today, I know that my friend’s daughter is about to be born. One hairless baby from one hairless mother. I also know that she will be one of the most beautiful babies I have ever seen.

Because you see, ‘Bald is beautiful.’ It may not be obvious to you but it can turn to be very beautiful when you fight such a dubious fight with all your strength, with all your heart.

I know that in our modern society, we tend to wish for perfection, physical perfection meaning for a lot of women having beautiful hair... besides long and thin legs! (By the way, do men really love to be bald?)

My friend’s baby will be unaturally hairless but so beautiful, I know.

Let me tell you a little story to help you understand how the problem of baldness from chemo or because of other health problems that cause alopecia only exists in your mind.

A while ago, French teenagers were asked to write a screenplay. It was a national competition. Its aim was to change the way we look at people with cancer.

The winners were 13 yrs old kids from the Junior High School of a very small town.

Here is a summary of their screenplay which became a one-reeler by Luc Besson.

It is quite cold and windy. Several mothers are watching their kids play in the public garden.

A young mother is holding a baby in her arms. She is wearing a silky scarf on her head.
The baby drops her pacifier. The mother bends down to pick it up. A gust of wind. Her scarf flies away.
She looks stricken but she cannot stand up to go get her scarf because the baby is crying now and she wants to calm her down.

The other women look away. They are obviously shocked and embarrassed.

A young girl is going down the slide. As soon as she is back on her feet, she runs to pick up the scarf.
She walks to the young mother.

«I found your hair,» she says with a huge smile on her face.

The young woman is hairless and looks deathly pale.

But she smiles at the little girl.
«Thank you so much, sweetie,» she says.
«You’re welcome,» the girl answers while she runs back to the slide.

All of a sudden, the other women start smiling too, looking relieved.

We then hear a voice: «Their hope lies in the way we look at them.»

This is the story that won first prize at the competition.

Do we need to wait until children set the example of what to do for us to change?

Yes, ‘Bald’ can be beautiful, my friends.

Welcome, welcome, dear baby girl to be born any second now! Your bald mother loves you so much and your father loves both of you, you hairless girls.

*Good Luck, and Good Night*


Life Is a River Filled with Memories

Lately I have been extremely busy. Quite a change, some would say!

I am a photographer. My work is very important in my life. After finally getting my professional website on the net, I’m aiming at a lot more.

Two contemporary art galleries have shown some interest in my work and I have meetings set up with their directors. For me it would be a huge break.

So I’ve been spending a lot of time sorting and checking hundreds of pictures to make sure that besides my website, I’ll be able to show interesting work and projects, interesting enough to get me into this very promising but quite closed-in world of contemporary art exhibitions.

Some days, I go crazy because there are so many pictures to check. You have no idea!

Sometimes, well-hidden among my work pictures, I discover long forgotten family pictures and my mind escapes from reality.

It happened again today...

Since it is cold and dreary outside, those pictures sent me back to warmer times, warmer and happier times, should I say.

Once upon a time we were living in a posh suburbia, west of Paris. We did not live in the poshier part but in some kind of a small village inside the  town, the way the Paris area grew throughout the centuries.

There still were fields and orchards around our home. Most of the houses in the street were delightful small houses built at the beginning of the XXth century when the street still was a country lane.

Our own home used to be a barn.

Not very far from us, a very charming brick house was standing at the heart of a huge garden (quite extraordinary being so close to Paris). Old trees, quite tall. Flowers everywhere. A very beautiful ornamental garden and a vegetable patch and an orchard... (which I saw later.)

The wisteria which framed the windows was amazing, so dense and colorful.

The first time I walked past this house, I remember I stopped to gape at it behind its gates. The wisteria was in full bloom. And there was color everywhere. Tulips, roses, and tons of flowers I didn’t know.

It did look beautiful and peaceful.

A few days later, while I was waiting for Swee’ Pea to come out from his new school to walk back home with him, a woman my age came up to me with a big smile on her face.

She already knew who I was (quite easy I guess to spot a newcomer) and she told me her daughter and my son were in the same grade.

She looked delighted. She smiled a lot. She laughed a lot. I felt instantly that I no longer was an outsider.

The children came out. Before we parted in order to feed two hungry mouths, she invited me to come over to her place so that we’d have more time getting acquainted.

«You won’t have any problem finding my house. A wisteria is growing wild on its walls.»

I felt suddenly too shy to let her know that I had already noticed it and that I had fallen in love with it.

It only took us a couple of hours to become best friends, best friends and sisters for life until her very untimely death.

She was so much like her house. Very warm and cosy. I spent so many long hours with her there, basking in her enduring fondness.

She was a very gifted gardener, an extraordinary cook and she made wonderful cakes. She also loved to paint. And her watercolors were beautiful.

She tried to teach me at least the fundamentals but she gave up (because I was too much of a hedonist, I guess. Happiness without effort.)
Actually other things captivated my attention and since her flowers and her food were there for me to enjoy...

The truth was that I admired her very much. She was so great at what she was doing.
The truth was that we were extremely different. Those very differences contributed to our extraordinary friendship, I’m sure.

Today, I found those digitized pictures which had been hiding (and forgotten) in a folder called ‘H1’ because this was the first time I was using my Hasselblad. Such a long time ago.

Outside it is cold and dreary. Flowers are blooming on my desktop. Her flowers and her wisteria on her house.

*Good Luck, and Good Night*


Happy Birthday, JayCee!

Another year, another birthday! It makes sense, doesn’t it.

Our son turned 32 yesterday. I loved it because I don’t mind aging so I tend to think other people don’t mind aging either.

I imagine that this year, JayCee (Swee’Pea) had a very happy birthday considering the way his Facebook page started to fill up quite early with lots of best wishes from all over the world...

Birthdays are fun... and sometimes not so fun when you are thousands of miles apart.

We should be used to be apart for birthdays... We barely manage to spend Christmas together... So just imagine what happens for our birthdays!

I don’t know why but this year, it was harder than the other years. Well, I know why. One of JayCee’s friend is expecting twins and she was supposed to give birth this week. So we’ve been talking about babies a lot.

Our “baby” was born 32 years ago! And we never saw the years go by from the moment he literally sprang up from my womb till the moment he left quite a long time ago... Luckily when you think about it!

Our son never was the kind of person who would have enjoyed to stay put in the the same place and close to his parents all his life. (Well, there was a time when we did think it would be fun because we were his parents and he was our only son.)

Lucky for him, I think we made it easy for him to go away... His dad reminds me from time to time the day when our Jaycee decided he wanted to go down south on his own... He was 2. Yes, 2.

The cutest little boy ever. He called his grandmother and told her it was too cold in the Paris area. She answered she’d come and pick him up. He’d spend a couple of weeks down South and we’d go there to drive him back home.

He got ready to go. We bought a very small yellow cardboard suitcase for him to take a few books and games on board... We packed another (real) suitcase with his help. He was getting so excited. And we were secretly thinking that at the last moment, he’d chicken out! After all, he was 2. He had never left us before. And he didn’t know his grandmother this well at the time.

I’ll never forget the way he kissed us goodbye at the airport. I’ll never forget the way he grabbed his grandmother’s hand and waved us goodbye before walking away to the plane... I was devastated of course! My baby! Going away, so soon and... so happy to leave us!

Well, this is the way it has been ever since! He went back down South many times. He started traveling on his own as soon as he was old enough to be a UM. So many times that he was often invited to fly in the cockpit with the pilots.

He was 12 when he left home to spend 3 months in Canada, going to school there. And then there was Ireland and Germany and Canada again and the States and Australia and so many remote places... for weeks, months and years!

People say to us: “What? You let him go when he was 2?”

Yes, we did and we are more than happy now that we did give him this feeling of freedom and of safety. He was free to travel whenever he felt like it but he knew he was welcome home as soon as he wanted to come home. He also knew we did not spend our time waiting for him while wringing our hands in despair!  He knew we loved him very dearly, I imagine.

And no, we did not buy a dog to fill the big gap at home whenever he was away!

This year was different though. We decided to call him and wish him a very happy birthday... and beat all his friends to it!

Skype is a wonderful invention... because when he turned his camera on, we were holding a candle which we blew out together (well, virtually on his side!). Corny, maybe a little. Funny, a lot!


Then we toasted him with our best champagne! 

Kind of mean I know! But after all, it was also our day, the day “our son” was born... 32 years ago!

Happy birthday, JayCee!

*Good Luck, and Good Night*


Do You Like to Be Alone? I Do. A Lot.

Who knows what this beautiful girl was thinking about? (Believe me. She was beautiful.)

She also was very much alone amidst so many people on the beach. She did not look sad nor lost. She was looking at the sea and she was dreaming. Period.

The weather was delightful. Very warm. 5:00 p.m. On the 23rd of October. Quite wonderful, I know.

I was feeling elated when we started our walk on the beach. We were having such a nice time in Barcelona.

Those past few months, Popeye has been going through real bad times and he was getting ready to brave even worse weather.

Barcelona was such a peaceful touchdown for us. We had one whole week-end to try to get our breath and to restore our inner strength. Together.

Barcelona was an excellent choice. Popeye has been there quite a lot ever since it started changing into a very modern, huge, wealthy and ebullient city. The last time I had been to Barcelona? Oh well... Swee’ Pea was 5. So let’s say more than 25 years...

At the time, Barcelona was a little bit dreary. It was a port more than a city. I remember visiting the Miró museum and Gaudi’s Park Güell and Sagrada Familia...

Popeye loves Barcelona and of course I fell in love with the new Barcelona. We did a lot of things in the few hours we were to spend there together. It was fun and delightful. We walked around a lot which for us is mandatory to get to know a city. 

Quite late on Sunday afternoon, we decided to go take a walk on the beach after a storm.

This is when and where I noticed this beautiful girl, so lost in reverie  that she was totally oblivious to people around her.

I still had not really made up my mind about what I’d be doing during the following week while Popeye would be attending a seminar a few hours away (by car) from Barcelona.

I was supposed to fly back to Paris and then go to Brussels... and all of a sudden, the answer was loud and clear. I was going to stay in Barcelona, by myself. In a city where I did not know one single person. In a city I did not know my way around...

You see, I am a lot like the girl on the beach. I love being around people but I need to be totally on my own from time to time. When I saw her, she reminded so much of my own life.

I like loneliness. I have to, of course. My husband is away a lot. But after spending so many years in my beloved Tertres, I know I love to be alone without feeling lonely. Actually I love being on my own. Maybe because I know it won’t last too much... From one to three/four weeks at the most.

I am so used to being on my own that I get through life quite easily. Just like the girl on the beach, I can spend hours just watching the sea (when in Brittany). Lucky me with enough time on my hands to waste a few hours doing nothing else but watching and dreaming.

Except that I do not feel I am wasting my time. Something new and usually great, something interesting anyway comes out from those moments of intense loneliness. It always does. Ideas. Projects. Decisions.

All of which would not have come through nor to my mind in the hustle and bustle of my daily life. My normal daily life, I mean. The life with my husband, my son or my friends.

Of course, being alone because one’s husband or wife is away or gone is totally different from choosing to be alone because one needs to be completely alone.

I hope the girl on the beach was lonely because it was her choice. All of a sudden, it hits me. Maybe she was downright lonely and unhappy.

Well, tonight, all by myself at Les Tertres, I am not lonely nor unhappy. I do need time to be on my own. Lots of things to do, lots of things worth thinking about, lots of books to read... Lots of freedom!

Some people need their beauty sleep. I need my beauty loneliness, I guess.

*Good Luck, and Good Night*