Our Story Begins: The Scars That Guide
But Don’t Define
We all have them.
They might be there, in plain sight, like Capone with a visible vestige of past transgressions.
Some of them might be just below the surface, traced on that part of you that’s ethereal. The injury might very well be unseen but the damage is definitively real.
I have scars. Lots of them. I suppose you could see this statement both literally and metaphorically.
I got my first ones at 12-months-old. Those have painted my body since that day. They affected my ability to walk, to move at the time. I was crawling around under the kitchen table in our Kansas home. In those days the Kuerig hadn’t been invented. There was no espresso in most homes, no Starbucks. Percolating avocado-green or chrome pots sat, plugged into the wall, on the table, infusing the water inside with the ground coffee in a small metal filter at the top. It was that cord I got tangled in, too young to know what I was doing and too little to know that I shouldn’t keep going and pulling the cord with me. The pot fell over. The boiling-hot coffee flowed off the table and onto my body.
Today those scars cover my body. I have keloid ripples that cover my left arm and part of my right. The hair on my arms covers most of it. The follicles on the fronts of my legs are dead, burned decades ago by that scalding coffee. I have small spots that dot my back and legs from 2nd degree burns. I don’t often think of those scars at all. In fact, they never really defined me. I talked of them, always, fairly matter-of-fact and didn’t ever think there was reason to get surgery to remove them.
Other scars are harder to see. I am a single father. That’s simply a fact. It’s not because of a divorce, which has its own injuries, I am sure. Mine came from my wife dying. The moment she left, much like the scalding water hitting my body, I felt part of my soul intertwined with hers tear – and that’s what it felt like, a violent, painful tear – and rip away as she left. Another rip came when I had to deal with parenting twin boys and two teenage girls alone. My soul was torn. My family is scarred.
But the scars didn’t bother us.
I have friends who have surgical scars . . . cancer scars. The invasive cancer cells that multiply in the breasts of some women can lead to surgical scars that could easily let someone claim they have led to deformity. To a person, of those I know, that adjective never comes. The scars are simply an indication of what’s past. They’re changed, sure. Maybe it’s a struggle. Still, the scars are not who they are. Neither is the event that created them. The scars are simply part of them.
I’ve lived with my physical scars all but one year of my life. The emotional ones, the ones just now sealing over the wounds of loss, are still fairly new and sometimes still visible. It seems to look so violent and terrible, those marks left on your body or your soul. But those with these scars will tell you the same thing, to a person . . . the injury hurt. The pain was intense, the exhaustion and the itch of healing near unbearable. But the scars…they don’t hurt. They’re the healing process, life’s way of reminding what happened but pointing to the future.
We all have scars. The difference is, they’re here to remind us, not define us.
What about you? Do you have scars? What’s your story? Do they strengthen your resolve or remind you of sadness? Share your story with us.
Dave Manoucheri is a writer, journalist and musician based in Sacramento, California. A father of four, two daughters and twin sons, his blog, Our Story Begins is a chronicle of their life after the loss of his wife, Andrea, in March of 2011. Follow him on Twitter @InvProducerMan.