Ms. B talks to me about E's hair about once a week or so. The other day she said to me, "You know, E has one gray hair on top of her head."
I knew about the hair; it's a curiosity that's been there for as long as she's had hair. I wouldn't call it gray, exactly. I think it's more accurate to say that this one strand is colorless. It's a dawn-pale butter color on an otherwise brunette coif. It's an albino follicle. When I first noticed it I had to resist the urge to pluck it. It wasn't an issue of E's beauty or my projection of vanity or insecurity; it was a strand, though, that didn't belong, like a loose fiber on a sweater that disrupts the smoothness of the knit. I knew even the tiny action would cause E a moment of pain, though, and I couldn't hurt her for such an absentminded act. Over time I grew more mindful of the different hair, and now it's a talisman to find and greet whenever I part her hair. She had no hair for so long; we didn't even cut it at all until she was three years old. I know that each strand is special.
I don't think she even knows it's there.
Ms. B is originally from India. She continued, "You know in my country, a gray hair like that on a child is a sign of good luck. It mean her mother's love will always be upon her head."
What a lovely sentiment.