The Long Pink Scarf

author/source: Sarah Joyce

October_Breast_Cancer_Awareness_MonthThe long, pink scarf is wrapped tightly around her head, gripping her temples in an effort to stay in place. To a passerby it may seem to be a fashion statement, her silver earrings dangling in front of one-carat diamonds in gold settings barely visible against her tanned skin. Makeup applied meticulously. To friends and family, the pink turban, with its dark paisley overlay, guards their eyes from the truth. They know beneath the light, sheer surface lay white wispy clouds of hair, barely visible to the naked eye, sporadically placed on the pale sensitive scalp where thick blonde hair once flourished. However, my mother doesn’t seem to notice. Her face always falls back into a content smile, with eyes tearing from a joke she just heard or made. Her eyes are alive, blue irises twinkling like the stars in the universe that will never die. “I’m almost ready, I just have to do my hair,” she smiles.


Staring eyes accompany us everywhere we go now. Eyes that divert as quickly as they can, remembering that staring is impolite. We are checking out at a grocery store, our purchases stream across the smooth black conveyer belt into the cashier’s ready hands. As my mom swipes her silver card to complete the transaction, the cashier misses a beat. “I love your earrings,” she blurts nervously, trying to cover the faux pas. She had been staring. Today’s earrings were among my favorite, silver loops overlaid and intertwined together creating a two-inch chain of reflective metal on either side of her head, adding a mysterious element to her pink turban. They were beautiful, but the compliment was misguided. My mom and I exchanged a knowing look before she politely thanked the girl. As we walk away, I look at my mom and comment, “She was thinking the C word.” She laughs.


Sarah Joyce, writing about her Mom, who is a Breast Cancer survivor