In early January, Matt was showing me something to do with his leg. He got onto his knees and turned around. Just the mere fact of that caused me to draw breath: a few months earlier, he’d been immobile, flat on his back, with a good but attenuated prognosis.
My fingers moved unconsciously to the long scar on my left upper arm (shown above). I had a mole removed right before Christmas, and it left a longer and larger scar than I expected. It’s still raised (the kids call it my “caterpillar”). But I’m fine. As is Matt.
I can’t stop thinking about that. I’ve written about scars before, and about our body’s ability to move on, showing the marks of its lessons and life, but I’m still amazed by all the ways that we can rebound. Years ago, I wrote an essay about finding the first freckle on Whit’s four year old body, and of the surge of sadness I felt when I realized that life had made its first imprint on him.
Jane Hirschfeld’s quote about proud flesh comes to mind:
… see how the flesh grows back across a wound, with great vehemence, more strong than the simple, untested surface before. There’s a name for it on horses, when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh, as all flesh is proud of its wounds, wears them as honors given out after battle, small triumphs pinned to the chest.
2016 resulted in some new proud flesh for both Matt and me. For different reasons, and to different degrees, but we have new scars (and I’m only talking about the visible, external scars). Our bodies bear the marks of our journeys. Whit has scars. Grace has bumps. Matt has a big scar. I have several of each (I used to joke that if you hadn’t broken a bone – I’ve broken many – you weren’t trying hard enough). Yet our bodies also show a remarkable ability to move forward and to heal. What an outrageous blessing that is. We are all learning to dance with the limp.
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