You might want to sit down for this. It may not be easy to hear.
In the time that I’ve been away, I’ve had to deal with many personal, debilitating issues. I’ve kept my distance, suffered in silence, for the most part, so that I wouldn’t burden others with my problems. In time, I would have overcome these obstacles and returned a better man. But time has not been kind and, as I have discovered, may not be on my side.
So I turn to you, my friends, my loved ones, in hopes that you’ll understand my plight and lend me your love and support so that I may have the strength to continue to fight. Because I am afraid I’m fighting an uphill battle that I may not be able to win on my own.
I’ve never been one to sugarcoat my words so, please, forgive my candor, but it has recently been brought to my attention that…
I have gray in my hair.
[I’ll pause here for a moment while you gasp or cry or say a prayer, if you should so feel the need.]
It started a few weeks ago, but the memories of that morning are still so vivid, every detail crystal clear in my mind, that it may as well have happened this very morning.
That fateful day had started like any other. I woke, yawned and stretched, wiped the sleep from my tired eyes, then put on my old man slippers and made my way through the house, the pup dancing excitedly at my feet as I opened the backdoor to let her out.
My morning routine continued. I brushed my teeth, washed my face, and, as I was getting ready to get into the shower, a quick flash of light caught my eye in the mirror, like the sun reflecting off of a watch.
That can’t be what I think it is, I thought. It’s just a trick of the light. It has to be. I’m too young to…
Before I could finish that thought, I saw it: a long silver strand had sprouted from my head, shining like Christmas tinsel amongst my otherwise dark brown hair. I quickly ran my fingers through the rest of my hair, hoping that maybe this was just some sort of freak accident; one rogue follicle. But then I found a second. A third. A fourth. There were dozens of silvery sleeper agents hiding throughout my hair, waiting, plotting to take over my head, and one thick stark white strand nestled in my fiery red burning bush of a beard.
All of my worst fears were coming true.
Instead of breaking down and reducing myself to a pile of tears, I decided to be proactive. I showered, dressed, and drove to the nearest Urgent Care. Because I needed to be cared for, urgently.
“Yes, this is very serious. Very serious, indeed,” the Urgent Care doctor told me. “Looks like you have a pretty nasty case of… Aging.”
“Omigod,” I said. “Is there a cure?”
“I’m afraid it’s terminal.”
“How… how long do I have left, doc?” I asked.
“If you’re lucky?” he said. “Maybe another thirty or forty years.”
Only forty years left to live. At most! Can you imagine what it’s like to have your expiration date so casually thrown in your face like that? A single tear ran down my cheek.
“Look, kid.” he said. “You’re thirty-three. You’re not eighteen anymore. You’re getting old. These things happen. Hell, you’re lucky you haven’t started losing your hair yet.”
It was about this time that I determined he wasn’t acknowledging how obviously serious my condition was – Lose my hair. Hmph. As if hair was as easily to misplace as car keys or credit cards or small children. – so I left, hoping to find a second opinion that wasn’t quite so flippant or cavalier.
I was lucky enough to find hair specialist, named Dr. Gina, at a nearby private clinic called General Hair Care Salon, who could see me right away.
When she asked me what I was looking to do today, I told her that I was in search of a cure for the silver hairs that had invaded my head. She told me about a radical procedure called a “dye job.” I was nervous, but willing, until I found out that it would only mask the symptoms; not cure the disease.
She told me that she could always cut them out, but I decided amputation should be a last resort. And, anyway, as I learned, cut out one gray hair and two more will grow in its place, like some twisted hydra monster.
Feeling alone and out of options, I looked to my family for support.
I sat my parents down and broke the news to them gently. “Mom, dad,” I said. “I have something to tell you that may be hard for you to hear. Some of my hair has started turning gray. I’m afraid I’m… aging.”
They took the news well, laughing for a good ten minutes and, then, after they had calmed and composed themselves, laughed for another five as the sifted through my hair, trying to spot all the grays. “There’s another one!” my mother cackled.
I’m thankful that they were able to remain so strong in light of such devastating news. Their strength gave me the strength to carry on and start speaking publicly about my condition.
My name if Frank Cvetkovic and I am a person with gray in his hair. I suffer from a terminal disease called Aging and I may only have forty years left to live.
And I plan on spending that time living.