This was not the first time I saw him this week. The girls and I had gone running in the trails behind camp and I caught a rock just right and came away bloody. I couldn’t be a total baby because I was the counselor, so I kept the profuse whining to myself.
But after that episode there was night-free-time and how could I let the girls go off the blob in the moonlight without me? So what if I soaked myself in the murky water of the lake? I was bonding.
And sure enough, that bonding contributed to a beautifully infected and painful quarter sized patch on my right knee where my skin used to be. So the first aid guy told me we had to lift off the scab with the peroxide to remove the infection and start over, taking better care of it this time.
My mouth seemed to need to chatter off any and every thing in order to cope with the pain. So I rattled off the history of that poor knee and how as a little girl I tripped across the neighbor’s patio with a glass in my hand. That was the most blood I had ever seen as a four-year-old.
“Yes,” he said. “That incident probably made this experience more painful. Opening a scar always magnifies the pain.”
I think about that every time I run trails. I remind myself to be extra careful lest we bust that knee again.
Through the years the scar has healed well and now appears only faintly as the pink skin blends with my pasty pale white in the most unnoticeable way. When I rub my finger over the area I can only feel the slightest bit of sensitivity, like that patch of skin is starting to fall asleep.
Scars certainly don’t require the same amount of care or carry the same sensitivity as the initial wounds creating them, but they do mark some tender places and require different protection than other areas of our bodies. They are places where our skin may be a little thinner; wounds are riskier, may hurt more, and may take longer to heal.
They remind us that we are human. That we are not indestructible like we may sometimes pretend that we are. And they also remind us of our capacity to heal. That we made it through some difficult, painful experience. And that although we now have a place that is more vulnerable than it was before, we survived.