The following post was written for the Weekly Writing Challenge of WordPress.com.
Every scar holds a memory.
When I was little, my mother used to wince at the sight of it. 42 stitches from my scalp to my eyebrow. There are others…smaller ones…including the one inside my upper lip. Sometimes, I still run my tongue up and down the jagged ridge that cuts from the edge of my lip to where the skin meets my gums.
The memory is my mother’s, not mine. An empty aquarium shattering over the hard skull of her 14 month old daughter. Blood. Deep red. Heavy.
Washing glass from her little one’s hair while she waited for the ambulance.
“No time!” the police officer shouts. “I’ll drive you in my car.”
My father screaming, blaming. The officer leaves him behind.
Doctors whisking her baby girl into surgery.
“Will she be okay?”
“We’ll have to wait and see.”
Wait and see…and be questioned by protective services. It’s the standard protocol, they tell her.
Wait with empty arms as her little girl sleeps a dreamless sleep in a cold, sterile room down the hall. Wait as they pick glass splinters from her baby’s soft skin, as they stitch the broken, delicate flesh together. Wait and see the new face. The face of a memory she can never forget.
A memory I can never remember.
In the mirror, I see the only face I’ve ever known. Scars from a memory I own but cannot find.
I don’t remember my father screaming or the officer leaving him behind. I don’t remember my father much at all. But he left a scar too. Sometimes I can feel it – running along the outside of my heart -the jagged edges I sewed together to close up the cavity he left when he left us behind. It’s not a pretty scar. I was only a child, not a surgeon. But I needed to stop the bleeding…to keep the life from spilling out of me…to stop the world from getting in.
Like the scars on my face, this heart-scar is a part of me. It’s the only heart I’ve ever known, shaped by so many memories: memories I love and memories I loathe, memories I can’t remember and memories I never made at all, but could have, had he stayed.
Scarred hearts beat funny sometimes. And they ache…for what was taken and what was never let in.
Looking in the mirror, I ask The Surgeon, “Will she be okay?”
He gently rests a hand – a hand carrying scars of his own – on my heart. Knowingly, his eyes smile into mine as he whispers, “We’ll have to wait and see.”