An ode to this hair: a subtle, yet gentle reminder glistening in the florescent light of my bathroom as I wash out another bowl of the middle kid’s puke. Another child screams “I’m hungry!” as the smell of the freshly soiled diaper of another pours over me, and I look up into the mirror. Something shiny catches my eye and I realize this is not the natural highlight of my youth but something much lighter. A subtle, yet gentle reminder of the middle place in which I reside.

Caught between the ignorance of childhood and the pains of geriatric lamenting, I pause to admire the way in which this single hair has dug herself so deeply into the flowing brunette waves I’ve come to love.

But she is not fully white.

Nor fully black.

No – she is grey and red and blonde and back to brown then black again, swirling and spiraling all the way down in unison with all of the other hairs. A subtle, yet gentle reminder that like her I am spiraling and swirling in this thing called middle life where there are first days of school and first days of chemo. First steps and first times at a new apartment. Lost jobs and new careers. Pain and fear and joy and love all swirling around and around into a mess of grey that my mind can’t always comprehend but my heart has begun to soften to over and over again. Every day, light and dark colliding at rates my intellect cannot sustain. Yielding to my heart I find she is solid, sturdy, able, and ready for the job. All this embodies one moment: subtle, yet gentle.

Suddenly a voice cries out, “Mom!” Eyes sunken in, filled with desperation looking for solace as the next round of heaving begins. I pluck the hair and carry her with me as I wipe butts, and mouths, and tears feeling through the weight of my own tears. A subtle, yet gentle heart voice reminding me that all is well. All is as it should be.

Greys and waves.

Subtle, yet gentle.

This is the middle of life.

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