Whether it’s the large scar on my leg resembling claw marks from the barbed wire fence when I was 17, or the circular scar from the mole removed 15 years ago, or the jagged lines that reside on my upper arm from the car accident, scars tell stories of our challenges in life. We remember the moments we were hurting and received the initiations into our permanent wounds.
Not long ago, I had my first appointment at a new dermatologist. As the doctor perused the moles on my body, he finally came to my left arm. Focusing on my shoulder, I tensed up as he worked his way down, running his hands over my jagged and raised scar. My scar! The scar that serves as a daily reminder of that tragic day.
It turned out exactly as I predicted it would. Just an hour before, the scene played in my mind formatting my response to the question I knew was coming.
Here it comes…
“What happened to your arm?” The man in the white coat asked politely.
“It was a car accident,” I replied succinctly, not wanting to elaborate as I waited for the follow up that was sure to come.
“Wow, was anyone injured? That looks like it really hurt.”
Yep, there it came. The million dollar question. Stumbling a bit over my words, I blurted out “Actually, my five year old daughter passed away in the accident. It was ten years ago.”
And then, all I heard was a big sigh and “Oh…” The poor doctor and his friendly assistant didn’t know what to say. To break the awkward silence, I shared with them how God has blessed my life since that tragic day. No other words were said.
And you know what? It didn’t bother me like it used to. Strange as it may sound, it made me feel good to seize this opportunity to discuss it and offer a bit of perspective on life.
For years I dreaded the hot weather, refusing to wear sleeveless tops, as it didn’t take long for an innocent conversation to navigate towards my arm. Was it that obvious? I suppose so. Subtle glances from others still happen today, and of course I notice every single one of them.
I’ve instinctively learned to casually change conversations or introduce a new topic, just to avoid the uncomfortableness of others. I guess I’ve lived with this for ten years now and it’s just become a natural reaction.
The other day, I ran across an old photo of our family weeks before Lydia died. Instantly I noticed my arm. It was exposed and smooth, perfect skin with no blemishes in sight. If only I could rewind time, to feel my complete seamless skin, wrap my arms around my daughter, and have a do over never taking anything for granted.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Now, my scar is a part of me both internally and externally. It represents my journey, where I’ve been and how far I’ve come, delicately balancing life in two worlds. It represents a woman of strength and great courage, someone who has survived the unimaginable. It signifies the old me, my life before Lydia died and my fierce battle fought and renewed spirit found in the years after. Quite amazing actually.
This morning while blow drying my hair, I looked in the mirror and saw that prominent reflection of the deep wound. With gratefulness and unending love, I am thankful for this attention getting and humbling reminder of God’s grace. Beautifully scarred.