I trace the thick line with the tip of my finger, tickling him while I dry him off after his bath. The line feels hard and bumpy, even though I know it’s been softened with bottle after bottle of baby lotion. The line is highlighted by tiny raised dots that give the illusion of a zipper. The remnants of a plethora of tiny staples. The upside down Y shape branding him as different.
The scar takes up the majority of his ample Buddha-belly. It’s long since faded from the angry red of a fresh incision to that silver-white color only scar tissue can create. He pays no attention to the road-map generously taking up residence on his belly. I see it, though, as others do, an ugly reminder of a life hanging in the balance.
The scar in and of itself is not so bad, it’s the others, the craters left behind from the drains that make you want to avert your eyes. Tubes placed, one end in the bile ducts of his donated liver, the other end outside his once tiny body, draining the bile that collected from those damaged ducts. Hope that those tubes would force those bile ducts to remain open, permanently.
Once the tubes were removed it took months for the craters to form, to heal over the holes left behind. His “extra belly buttons” is what Jonathan calls the craters in his brothers’ ravaged abdomen. 4 of them, large enough to stick the eraser end of a number 2 pencil in. A permanent connect the dot, floating around the upside down Y.
Of course, there’s more, the mass of needle jabs that congregate along his right side. Coordinates that mark the spot of repeated liver biopsies, more than I can count with both hands. So many scars on a 3 year old belly. Physically on him, emotionally mine. Each mark: a procedure, a hospital stay, a medical miracle.
Because even though his belly and its multitude of scars is the topic of hushed conversations whenever he takes off his shirt, it’s these same scars that remind me each and every day how lucky he is. How lucky I am to have him here.
Some day I’m sure he will lament how his belly looks, how it makes him different from the other boys. How the girls laugh when they see his physique.
I will have to remind him, just how precious those scars are. I will have to re-tell the stories about how hard he fought, the endless hospital stays, how bravely he earned those scars. I will have to make him see that the constellation of scars sprinkled across his belly should be worn like a badge of honor.
I will have to convince Zachary that his scars are beautiful simply because they saved his life.
Nothing could be more beautiful than that.
This post was inspired by The Red Dress Club’s weekly writing prompt. This week’s assignment was: To write a piece about something ugly – and find the beauty in it. 600 words max.
As always, concrit is welcome, I struggled with how to end it, so suggestions are encouraged.