I tipped my head back, tiny make up mirror magnifying the geography of my chin, checking for anything that needed “tending”. There you were. I’d forgotten about you. Just out of sight, beneath the curve of my chin. There. The scar.
The wound that preceded this scar came at a tender 4 years of age. I was playing with my friend Punky on Columbia Avenue, the street where we both grew up. While I had a little red tricycle of my own, Punky had what I considered to be an uber-trike. The only similarity to mine was that it was red. Punky sat up higher and her trike had a little step in the back allowing a second rider who would stand, holding onto the driver’s shoulders. On a hot day in the summer of our 4th year, Punky invited me to step onto the back of her tricycle for a ride down the sizzling concrete sidewalk. I gladly accepted. Wheeling down the street, we passed our friends’ homes–Anna, Carol and Cathy, Paula…but it was in front of Holly’s house that our ride came to an abrupt halt. For in front of Holly’s house grew a graceful, majestic oak tree whose roots extended far in all directions. One root in particular was part of the landscape of the sidewalk, jutting up like an elbow raised to nudge passersby. Punky hadn’t ever ridden this far on her trike.
We barreled down on the root, Punky’s front tire slamming into it, bringing herself and the bike to a quick jolting stop. I, on the other hand, flew over Punky’s head and landed on the concrete, chin first. With a glance at me through the blood and the tears, Punky knew she needed to get help and ran to get my parents who quickly made their way up Columbia Avenue to retrieve me. They carried me home, holding hands and crossing their arms to create a little chair where I could sit, sobbing, holding onto their shoulders as they walked. Home we went to dress wounds and soothe the tears.
I was ok but the scar remains on my chin, a little white line about 3/8 of an inch long, taking me back on each rediscovery to me 4 years old.
Amazing how these scars, seen and unseen stay with us through the years. We all have them–marking us, holding us, haunting us–like footnotes in the book of our lives. They live on our skin, in our minds, on our hearts. And while I don’t in any way suggest that my little white scar compares with some of the larger scars that mark us, for me it’s a visual reminder that that little girl I once was still lives in me. And it feels right to honor our scars as they call to us, tending them with an understanding that they are a part of us, part of our story. Remembering these scars in each other we must note that it is not up to us to define or compare, to decide that one is worse or better or more important than another. Rather, knowing that they are there, and treating each other with the tenderness that we all deserve.