Monday, February 22, 2010

A lasting aftereffect of trouble

Why are scars shiny? Shiny usually connotes something good, something new and exciting. Birthday parties. Little girl's patent leather shoes. Sunlight. In contrast, scars and their stories are often rife with pain. You may hear the story of a scar told with great bravado and excitement. At the time, few people would express such pleasurable opinions about the activity that caused the scar.

Being a widow has taught me a thing or two about scars. Science tells us that scars never completely go away. The scar left by Ron's death has not gone away. In time, I'm sure, I'll continue to see changes in its appearance. I have already noticed a change in the pain. I feel myself and the scar changing. But it will never be gone. There's a part of me forever irreparable because of what happened.

But is my injury, my pain, really a scar? A scar does not form until the would is completely healed. I am not completely healed. I am moving through my grief, but I'm not sure that part of me will ever be healed. I am moving forward and looking to the future. Maybe what I have isn't a scar after all. I'm left with a weakened spot. That weakness allows memories to sneak in and open the wound again. Scars are physical marks that show healing has occurred. My healing is not all in the past. I will have many more moments of healing. But maybe, just maybe, there's some shiny skin peeking through.

Scar tissue is different than the original tissue of the skin. And I am different than I was before I was on my own. That thought no longer scares me. I used to worry that when I got done changing no one would recognize what was left. Underneath it all I'm still me. A lot has changed. Some parts are very different. Look at all I've learned. I am more confident, independent, and willing to take on whatever life tosses my way. My experience would not have been the same without all the pressure applied in the last year and a half. Ron's death prepared me for so much that I never would have felt comfortable with before.

I prefer to think of scar in the etymological sense. The word "scar" is derived from the Greek word schara, meaning place of fire (fireplace). And if that's true, when I'm left with a scar from this experience, I hope there's still fire left in me.

Gratuitous song reference: Scars by Papa Roach
I tear my heart open, I sew myself shut

My weakness is that I care too much
And our scars remind us that the past is real
I tear my heart open just to feel

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You said it: a scar is not the same as the original skin, it permanently changes it. So loss does to us, our "healed" selves now include the weakness and the place our loves left behind. But your post makes me rething how we use the word: when we say someone has been scarred, it's negative, as if they're damaged. You reminded me that it means we're irrevocably changed, for better or worse, but the scar itself has no valence is what it is, emotional, as well as physical scars, are simply a part of us.