The Stories On My Skin
This blog is dedicated to one of my best friends, Maggie Edwards. I hope you can find a good story to tell with that scar I left you - haha!
Scars are areas of fibrous tissue that replace normal skin after injury. A scar results from the biological process of wound repair in the skin and other tissues of the body. Thus, scarring is a natural part of the healing process. With the exception of very minor lesions, every wound (e.g. after an accident, disease, or surgery) results in some degree of scarring. What do these areas of fibrous tissue say? After recently attending a drunken float trip and launching a sharp rock (accidentally) at my friend’s eye, I began to think about scars. The pathophysiology behind them is basic enough. You slice up your skin in some way and your body repairs it, but it never looks quite the same. I started to look at my own scars. Being a tomboy during my childhood, with some of those traits being carried with me into adulthood, I have plenty of stories on my skin.
Bottom Lip, 1992. Portage Des Sioux, MO
18 month old, bow-legged with a diapered bum and curly brown hair running around like the energy would never cease. This is the story my parents told about my first trip to the ER. Apparently I was playing some sort of game with myself, being an only child I guess I learned to do that at a young age. I was running from one end of the wood-floored house to the other, laughing and carrying on as any normal 18 month old would do. At one end there was a wooden toy box my dad had built for me. During one of the runs back to the side of the house with the toy box I tripped and landed lip-first into the toy box. One long 30 min, stressful (if I had to guess) trip to St. Joseph’s ER and 5 stitches later I still have the scar that reminds me I was a kid once, reminds me that even at the sweet age of 1 ½ I was mildly out of control. Hah!
Left Knee, August 2002. Portage Des Sioux, MO
It was the summer after fifth grade. My dad had just bought me my first pocket knife. I have never loved an object so much; the cool eagle and American flag on the side, the sharp silver blade, the triumph I felt when I learned how to open it up. The rule was that I could only use it when he was around. If you know me at all, you know I don’t really care for rules, I grabbed the first stick I could find, after my dad went inside to finish dinner, and got to work! I sat down in a lawn chair in my dirty, cut-off jean shorts and tank top with a chest too flat for a bra and began to shave the bark off that stick. I was cutting away from myself just as dad had shown me. Unfortunately, in my sneaky fun-filled wood-carving haze, I failed to realize the position of the stick directly over the top of my knobby knee. As I came down with a firm slice on the soft bark of the stick, the knife blade kept going right into my 11 year old flesh. I remember there being so much blood and trying to hide it from my dad because I knew the likeliness of trouble was around the corner. He came outside as I was holding my hand over it with a sad attempt to act as if nothing happened, meanwhile dark red blood streaking down my leg. He didn’t yell, he never even got mad. He ran inside and got a clean towel and some peroxide and cleaned it up and put a bandage on it. After the wound was clean and Motrin was on board, Dad gave me the “I’m disappointed you didn’t listen to me” speech which is enough to crush any “daddy’s girl” heart. To me, that scar embodies unconditional love.
Right Calf, December 2004. Portage Des Sioux, MO
It was the afternoon before our 8th grade Christmas choir concert. I had my outfit and jewelry picked out. I had bought the outfit the week before, a pair of black pants and a red sweater. However, I had forgotten to take them out of the bag and they were wrinkled, badly. At this point in my 14 years on earth I had never used an iron. I didn’t understand what the steam did or what the settings meant. I remembered seeing my mother use the iron occasionally before she left two years earlier. I decided it couldn’t be terribly hard, and it wasn’t. As I sat on the pink carpet in my room with a towel down on the floor I successfully ironed my sweater and my pants. I remember thinking that life without a mom here won’t be so bad after all, I can handle this. Then I ran my calf right into the edge of the iron that was on high. I just remember the sting of the burn and the tears, so many tears. I crawled in my bed and sobbed.Why should I have to iron my clothes? I thought this as I touched the burned flesh on my leg, causing more pain and more sobbing. Sobbing because my mom should be there helping me get ready, helping me get the knots out of my unruly hair, teaching me how to put on makeup, but she wasn't. When I was all cried out, I dried my eyes, shoved down those awful emotions for another day and began to comb through my hair, knot by knot. That scar taught me that life isn’t fair. That scar gave me my independence.
Heart, December 2006. Portage Des Sioux, MO
I found my father, passed away in his bed at 10:30am on December 22, 2006. I remember hugging his cold body and screaming to no one, as I was alone in our house on Common Field, that I didn’t even get to say goodbye. Somewhere in the midst I made a phone call. Before anyone arrived I was hopelessly clinging to him, my endless tears and snot on his chest, shaking him, praying he would wake up. I remember begging God for me to be wrong, for my dad to open his big brown eyes and tickle me again, the way I always pretended I hated. Months after his death I was still in a deep depression. He was my person, my best friend, all I had. Wounds on the heart are much harder to heal, as they don’t technically exist and are emotionally fueled. Mederma can’t touch those. Slowly my wound has healed over. Even after almost 7 years, a lot of praying and an immense amount of acceptance, the scar is still raised and I remember its presence daily. That scar taught me that bad things happen to good people for reasons not understood. It has taught me about the extreme vulnerability and preciousness of life. That scar has taught me that even the worst kind of wounds will heal, but a scar will always remain.