When Shanna came to work at the office, she was the tan, cute, blond Southern belle or so we thought at the time.
Like peeling layers of the onion skin, we get to know other people in slivers and slices. Just the same way we get to know ourselves. When I found out Shanna and I shared the same birthday, I got to know her better. When Shanna offered to help out with my books, a little better still and so it went until we formed a bond of shared experiences and ways of thinking. She was only in her late 20s when she came into the office one day to tell us she had a rare form of cancer. Diagnosis. Surgery. Radiation. Chemotherapy. If you’ve ever been through it, you know it’s like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse or simply put, a call for personal transformation. Shanna lost her hair, that beautiful blond hair that so complimented her tan, that made her feel cute. “The old Shanna doesn’t exist anymore,” she said. “I was spending time on upkeep for crap that didn’t matter. There are gorgeous people out there who are ugly inside. Inner beauty lasts and that’s what I look for in people these days.” Shanna’s hair grew back and she left bookkeeping and is just a semester shy of becoming a nurse. I have no doubt that she will be a great one.
Years ago when I was in college, a medical student looked at my burned leg and said to me, “You know, you can have plastic surgery to make that look better.” I nodded but didn’t say anything. Words weren’t needed. I’d already had a dozen plus plastic surgeries by then. There was some wry delight in knowing that if that medical student couldn’t make even that assessment after years of medical training, then he wasn’t going to have a very successful career. What you see on the outside often has nothing to do with what’s on the inside.