She always cut my hair a little shorter than my wife preferred, which is exactly why I loved going to her. On the sweltering days of July, it was nice to get scalped. It saved me a few extra days in between haircuts, and it meant a few more days before I had to stare at the divided factions of my male-pattern baldness: the thick outer edges, seemingly stealing from the thinning middle section.
But I had stretched the last haircut out long enough; it was time to see Lisa again. So I called Park Avenue Salon, hoping for an appointment before the end of the week. Instead I got this:
"We don't really know how to say this, but Lisa is in a coma. She was in a really bad motorcycle accident."
Will she survive?
"We don't know. She has serious brain damage and is fighting pneumonia."
Lisa is 33. She has two children, ages 3 and 1. I thought of them immediately.
How much do we really get to know the people in our lives? In this case, Lisa and I are close in age, and we spent the last several appointments comparing baby pictures. She was the kind of hair stylist anyone would love: quiet and focused when you're tired and don't want to talk, but spunky and vivacious when you're looking for conversation. She loves -- really loves -- her husband, who was also badly hurt in the crash but will survive. They had planned a renewal of vows soon, because they got married on a joyous whim several years ago. No surprise; Lisa is impulsive, fun, and just about the least intimidating heavily tattooed person I've ever met.
I'm gutted over this. Numb. How, I asked the person on the phone, are the kids? How the hell can they be, given the circumstances?
"They don't really understand what's happening."
Of course not. Their mother is fighting to survive, dealing not only with brain swelling, but collapsed lungs and multiple shattered bones. What do you say to a child barely three years old? Do you hope that their memory will eventually erase these days? Mommy is sleeping, resting.
Park Avenue Salon has organized a benefit for Lisa Caruso, nee Williams, and her family. On September 29th, from 4 to 8 pm at Park Ave Salon, 50% of products and services will go to the Caruso family. There will be wine tasting, food, and a silent auction. Money is barely the start of what her family will need.
I hung up the phone. I was almost ashamed that I had spent part of the day fretting over my ostensible problems: I haven't had enough time to work out lately. I feel out of shape. I'm behind on returning several emails.
Lisa Caruso would only love to have such problems. I don't know the circumstances of the accident, but that's not the point. I don't know if I'll ever see her again, and that's just stunning. Sometimes life has a way of reminding us: There are no guarantees, we shouldn't expect fairness, and sometimes awful things happen for no good reason.
-Evan Dawson, September, 2012