Do you remember the moment you first discovered a gray hair? I do.
It was a Sunday morning, just shy of my first wedding anniversary. My husband and I were spending some time at my parents’ house before moving across the Pacific Ocean. Four weeks earlier, on April 29, I’d given birth to my daughter. Soon after, my husband graduated from college, and we moved out of our apartment into his grandpa’s guest room. We were preparing to relocate to Hawaii with hopes that he would matriculate off the waiting list and into the medical school program at the John A. Burns School of Medicine on Oahu. We disposed of possessions, sold our car, made a trip to Texas for my sister’s high school graduation, and packed six suitcases to take with us to Hawaii the second week of June. These changes, all amidst the shocking transition from newlywed to mom, unmoored me. I had no idea what would happen, how I would recover, or how I would figure out how to be a mom so far away from my own maternal heritage.
What was I thinking?
These thoughts rattle around my brain as I stared in the mirror at my tired face, longing to feel excited about all of the transitions. After all, I was moving to Hawaii! Almost everyone who heard the news was elated and a little bit jealous. Explaining my misgivings and fears felt silly.
As I swept away the bitterness with a coral mineral blush, a little shimmer caught my eye.
Is that what I think it is?!
I parted hair with my fingers, dragging the shimmering one from its place to examine it more closely. I gazed at the silver strand in disbelief.
Yep, that is definitely a gray hair. It might even be white…this is so cool!
I rushed out of the bathroom to announce the good news, “I got my first gray hair!”
My dad looked at me puzzled, and asked, “Is this a good thing or a bad thing?”
“A great thing,” I breathlessly replied.
I viewed it as a mark of favor from the universe, a frosting of wisdom. I now possessed knowledge and experiences worthy of having gray hair.
In a way I felt comforted, validated even. My strenuous experience was not going unnoticed. Even if no one else cared, I knew that God did and somehow I was going to be okay.
My struggles were being spun into silvery threads. I could cope with that.
I have sprouted many more silver hairs since that Sunday morning, and the more I find, the more I smile. I was the weirdo child who looked forward to graying; who looked upon older women with resplendent sheaves of white hair in awe. I admired what they had endured and seen. Whether their hair was whisked up into a classic bun or hanging loose like a band of wild mustangs, I wanted to be counted worthy of their wisdom.
I hoped someday to be as beautiful as they.
Surely there is pain that comes with aging. Both of my grandmothers experience on a daily basis the tempering of their zest for life with their own physical limitations. If they could only do the things they once could. But there is also a beautiful glory to this phenomena that deepens with every passing year. Perhaps this is why Solomon, in the book of Proverbs, likens gray hair to a “crown of splendor.” It’s a breathtaking, visible sign of the internal treasure acquired from growing old.
And I am just getting started.
Kelsi Folsom holds a B.M. in Voice Performance and has traveled all over the world participating in operas, musicals, jazz bands, and choirs. Now a mom to “three under three”, she currently resides inSan Antonio, Texas while her husband attends medical school in Saba, Dutch Caribbean. When she is not putting on her best Cherubino while changing dirty diapers, you can find her perfecting gluten-free recipes, *gasp* reading, enjoying a nap, or trying to make sense of her life over french press. Kelsi writes here.