I don’t do well when forced to write. Those are the posts that end up in the electronic trash bin. That’s when the journal pages get torn out. That’s when my part-time muse takes even more time off. But a one-word writing prompt this week put my brain in stream of consciousness mode and it’s time to try to put the words in print.
The first scar that came to my mind when I saw the prompt was my childhood scar. It’s on the inside of my forearm and I don’t remember getting it at all, although I know the story. I was 3 or 4 years old, catching fireflies with my big sister and putting them in a glass jar. I fell, the jar broke, and I had a fairly severe cut. My grandparents (a doctor and a nurse) bandaged me up without the stitches that probably would have been used in an emergency room and I have a nice scar to (not) remember the incident by. It’s faded over the years; in fact when I turned my arm to look at it the morning I saw the writing prompt, I couldn’t find it, lost among all the sleep wrinkles. But I can see it now, just to the right of the major vein that runs down my arm. The sister told me once that it was the first time she really felt guilty. She had been charged to watch over me out there among the fireflies and she had let me get hurt. The carefree joy of being the little sister; I don’t think I was ever responsible for anyone other than myself until motherhood. There’s a reason my childhood scar came to mind first. Childhood scars are the ones we’ve had the longest. We can tell a story and point and say, “Here, see?” Proof that we were children once and had family that loved us and put us back together again when we got hurt. Proof of a memory, however embellished or twisted thru the years.
The second scar that came to mind is actually a set. There’s one that runs from my hip 2/3 of the way to my knee, there’s one that rims around my belly button and runs all the way down my abdomen, and there’s four small dots, one on each side of my knee. These are my life changing scars. I was in a car-bike accident when I was in the 8th grade. The scars are all surgical, there were no physical marks from the accident itself. Would my memory of the event and its impact on me be different without the physical reminders that I see every day? I was 13 years old and the accident became my first giant step out of childhood. It was my first before/after life moment and one that still surprises me with how much hold it has over me.
And that’s all I want to say about the second scar. Isn’t that weird? How I can freely write more about a little childhood scar? I still grapple with how the whole experience of the accident affected me. All the things I learned about myself and others. Wondering who I would have been had it never happened…
The third scar is on my forehead. A dermatologist decided to dig out a mole a few years ago, just in case, and because my body likes to form scar tissue, I have a reminder every time I look in a mirror. A reminder that I am getting older. In dark moments, I can envision that being my future. Pieces of me being dug out and discarded, slowly growing smaller until I am all gone.
And when I get old enough, I’ll tell you all about that time I cut myself while chasing fireflies. (You don’t see many fireflies these days, but when I was little there were thousands of them every summer.) I’ll tell you about how I tripped running across the huge lawn, racing between the evergreen bushes where we saw the lightning bugs flashing. (Oh the stories I could tell you about hours spent in that yard with my grandfather and my cousins.) I’ll tell you about how we were trying to make a flashlight by filling a mason jar with the insects, and the glass shattered as I fell on top of it. How my responsible and caring big sister called out to my parents and grandparents, supporting me while the blood gushed down my arm. How close the glass shards came to severing a vein or artery. How everyone fussed over me and how brave I was. I remember it like it was yesterday. Look, here’s the scar to prove it.
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P.S. Don’t forget, I really do want you to tell me what to read.