About two months ago, I broke my leg. (I’ve told the story a million times—if you must ask, I was having a mudfight. Yes, a mudfight. They wheeled me into the clinic covered head to toe in mud. And I was bawling.) But this was no simple break. It required surgery. I’m still not exactly clear on the details, and I don’t want to be because it gives me a gross queasy feeling in my stomach. I was in the hospital for a couple days and came out with a cast and a four-inch scar that now curves, J-shaped, down the outside of my right ankle.
Breaking a bone has always been a fear of mine. I was glad to face this fear, and I was delighted with my new scar. The mudfight—before the break, of course—was great fun, and the visit to the clinic was painful but memorable, fun to look back again. I still laugh, re-enacting my own reaction to the shot the nurses tried to give me (“NO! NO! You can’t trick me! Get away, you hag!) I spent an amusing couple days in the hospital eating Jell-O and watching Seinfeld re-runs and made friends with my roommate, a sixty year old Puerto Rican woman who spoke very little English. Looking at the scar made me remember all this, fondly. And after it all, I saw this scar as a lesson. It reminded me not to be afraid. Every time I look at it, I marvel at its placid smoothness and marvel at the pain I can now barely remember. Pain fades in time, and we are left with scars. We must remember not to hide them. It’s better to rejoice in our recovery—pyhsical, emotional, spiritual.
When I first returned to school, I loved showing my scar to people. “Oh, you’re off your crutches!” they’d say, and I’d say, “Yeah, wanna see my scar?” Their reactions were tinged, surprisingly, with discomfort. “Um, well—” they’d begin, but I’d have already begun rolling up my jeans. “See? See?” I’d demand, wiggling my ankle and its scar in their faces. “Oh, I’m so sorry,” they’d say, and usually appeared relieved when the scar was hidden away again.
I couldn’t figure out why they acted so negatively. I liked my scar. Why didn’t they? And, yes, perhaps I was being a tad aggressive, brandishing it wildly about like that. But it wasn’t as if I was showing it to strangers on the street. These were friends and it’s not as if it was bloody or anything—it was perfectly smooth. Yet everyone acted so apologetic in its presence. Were scars really that bad? Should I be ashamed of it? I felt had to pick sides. Who was I going to believe in: them, or the scar?
My scar won out. I like it and it is part of me. It’s part of what makes me unique. I’m not going to apologize for it, so why should anyone? My doctor tells me my scar will probably disappear around the time I get married, like he knows when that’ll be. By that time I think I’ll be ready to part with it. For now, I’m going to wear my scar with pride.- Lilly