Life’s scars…



Relaxing on top… pre-fall, pre-scar
I don’t like this hike, but keep returning… my scar attaches me to it…



With all the moss and so many trails that I hike looking like this, it’s surprising that I don’t have a roadmap of white-line scars on my legs


While resting during a hike yesterday, with my dirty and freshly scratched up legs stretched out in front of me, my eyes were drawn to the 4-inch scar on my right calf that seems to be pointing down to my foot… that would be the foot that slipped on a mossy rock while hiking and came down on a piece of sharp granite many years ago.  Now had that thin white line ended up on my forehead or cheek, the memory of how it came to be might not conjure up the smile that it did yesterday.  It’s a gentle reminder of a fun day on Rooster Comb mountain, the same mountain by the way where  several years later, my daughter would be proposed to by my now son-in-law.  It’s a hike I do not like, but for some reason, whenever I’m in the Adirondack mountains with my sister, Susan, we do it.  We were close to the bottom and in a shaded area where slippery mossy rocks are common when I fell.  My leg was a bit of a bloody mess and once back at the lodge where we were staying, Susan suggested that maybe I should go to the hospital for stitches.  I had no idea if there even was a hospital nearby, but even if there had been, I opted out and patched myself up with a lot of bandaids and Neosporin.  Had I gotten the suggested stitches, I’m sure there would be far less of a scar, if any, but honestly, I don’t mind it a bit.  It feels like a badge of courage to me now and an ever present reminder of how much fun I have hiking with Susan.

Author Chris Cleave, in his book, “Little Bee”, says,

“A scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.”

Once again, I survived Rooster Comb Mountain.

I love that spin on scars and have a whole lot of surviving going on on my body.  I’ve got an 8 inch “zipper” on my right side that shows that I survived the removal of my right kidney when I was 21.  I remember sitting in the doctor’s  office with my Mom by my side when he told me that my kidney needed to be removed.  My response was, “What will the scar look like and will I still be able to wear a bikini?”  Seriously?  Not even a hint of how will this affect my life, my health, my overall well-being?  At age 21, I couldn’t look beyond the scar and honestly, I was devastated.  Not with the loss of a key body part, but at the thought of a scar wrapping its way around my mid right torso.  The removal of the diseased kidney left me healthier than I was with it, by the way, and has not affected my lifestyle, health or general well-being whatsoever.  It did bring on a question or two back in my bikini  days, which like the scar on my leg, always brought on a smile – a smile because my 21-year old self has grown up and feels no shame in showing the necessary trail of the surgeon’s scalpel.

The small scar duet, one just below my left brow and the other on the upper left side of my lip are easily forgotten until at a stop light on a sunny day and I catch my reflection in the rear view mirror, and then it’s,   “Oh yea…. I remember you guys.”  They found their way to my face during a car wreck with my best friend, Susie, in high school.  A car ran a stop sign and hit us from the side.  He wasn’t going fast or it could have been a lot worse, but had I fastened my seat belt, it would have been a lot better as my face probably wouldn’t have smashed into the windshield.  Lesson learned.  The hard way.  My biggest fear that time was not the scarring (this was 4 years before the kidney came out and my attention was in the immediate, not the future) but rather, my date’s reaction when he picked me up for the Black Oak Arkansas concert later on that evening.  Looking back, I probably should have given him a head’s up as he was certainly surprised by the sorry sight that greeted him at the door. My eye was black and puffy and freshly stitched and was nearly swollen shut and my lip, also freshly stitched was so swollen that my mouth wouldn’t close all the way.  I’m surprised he still wanted to take me, let alone be seen with me and more surprised that my parents let me go!

On the same leg as the hiking incident scar is a much smaller scar that is positioned just below my knee and is a straight up and down, one inch long white line.  It is my knelt down on an exacto knife scar while wall papering my soon to be 2nd baby’s room.  I was 8 months pregnant and although I should have had stitches,  I didn’t feel I had time to go to the hospital to get them.  I was mid-way into the wallpapering project and it’s not wise to pull a nesting mother from her project. So no stitches.  I mostly blame this round of bad judgement on the hormones.  I’m not sure where all of the braincells go when you’re pregnant (the baby?), but there is definitely a period of misfiring and the closer to delivery time, at least in my case, the worse it seemed to get.  This scenario happened again when I was 8 months pregnant with my 3rd child and I sliced my palm open on a tin can lid, while trying to extract it out of the can.  That time I did get stitches… a lot of them… and without an ounce of fat on the palm of your hand, that’s a painful experience that I hope never to go through again.  Then there was the whole situation of showing up in the ER, very pregnant, and trying to explain to the rushing around staff who had me in a wheelchair headed straight up to delivery,  to NOT take me to delivery but rather to the stitching up room of the ER.  That’s my scar that I’ve been told by more than one person, messed up any future palm reading on that hand.  Well shoot.  I missed that opportunity as I’ve never had my palm read. The scar did add an extra branch to my life line, though, which could come in handy someday.

With every one of my children’s entry into the world, or pre-entry, I’ve earned a scar.  With my first born, it is a 6 inch scar in my lower abdomen where he made his entry into the world during an emergency C-section due to an rapidly lowering heartbeat.  Rather than being stitched up that time,  staples were used to close the incision.  I never thought twice about the scar and would have welcomed one on my face if that was what it took to bring him into the world safely.  I saved the staples in a box along with my hospital bracelet (and his) as it seemed important at the time. Now it seems kind of creepy to save the staples, but I still have them, which either says they still hold importance, or I need to do more cleaning and clearing out.   I remember having a friend who saved her tonsils in a glass jar filled with water after they were removed when she was 5 and I thought that was pretty cool as I only had a sore throat and some cards after my tonsils were removed for my take home gift.  I didn’t want my kidney after it was removed (and am pretty sure that is against hospital policy now), but when they told me they had to take out a rib to get to the kidney, thoughts of making art or jewelry out of that rib made me wish they had saved it for me.  Today, the scar seems to be more than enough reminder to me, without needing to hold onto the rib, which is far creepier than an envelope of staples, right?

I survived.  And the relics of those survivals are etched all over my body – my personal badges of strength, courage and maybe stupidity for not going to the hospital on some of them…

I’ve often wondered what it would be like if rather than tucked away in the depths of our heart, if we wore our emotional scars side by side to our physical scars.  Would it illicit kinder behavior to those who we don’t know but think we do when we see them yelling at their kid or throwing trash out of their car window or mistreating their animals?  If we saw the scars of all of their pain, would we act differently towards them?  Maybe it’s best they are tucked away and held where only we can feel them.  The emotional wounds do heal in time, but no doubt, they leave scars in the wake of their fading pain and every once in a while, I will get the gentle or maybe not so gentle reminder of their presence.

We’re all scarred, inside and out, but it’s in those telling marks that lies our history, our bumps in the road, our accidental lessons in life, but we survived, and no doubt, with a story to tell.

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