Lucky Scars

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.

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , | 29 Comments

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29 thoughts on “Lucky Scars

  1. This is so heartfelt and raw. You are so strong, and Zachary is so strong without even being aware of it yet. I like that you added that his physical scars are your emotional ones, because that is so very true when a mother goes through this with her child!

  2. Wow- this is amazingly written. And I love the idea that you will make your son proud of his scars because they represent the fight within him. I have a friend who was in a fire when she was little and her parents encouraged her to run naked and free so she would not feel ashamed of her body. She is one of the most confident people I know and has taught me invaluable lessons about self-esteem and self-acceptance.

  3. I can only agree with Angela. I love your response to this prompt, and she said exactly what I think too. Love.

  4. Lovely. And I’m sure you’ll do a wonderful job of reminding him that those scars are to be worn proudly, because he is a SURVIVOR.
    (Side note: I used the word “constellation” to describe the random assortment of scars too! Weird.)

  5. Scars! Memories that are so emotionally conflicting. Beautiful writing AMy. I look forward to your posts everyday. Sending love to you. =) 0x

  6. This was marvelous! Those scares are indeed things of beauty. After all, what’s lovelier than getting a second chance?

  7. Battle scars. He should be proud. My wish is that children won’t laugh at that, but the world is cruel sometimes. Your love for him is strong and shines right through this post.

  8. How beautiful
    A constellation of stars.

  9. This is truly beautiful. Oh a momma’s love. What a brave, beautiful boy.

  10. You know, he is a lucky child… now and forever… because that way he will have all the right people in his life… people who love him for him, who will stick with him throughout… not everyone gets that blessing… he is truly lucky.

  11. I loved the second paragraph! Your word choices were brilliant. This is one of the strongest pieces of writing I’ve read all morning. Hopefully, when your son is older and going through adolescence, maybe we as a society will have changed enough that we look on scars like those as trophies of the beautiful life we all have!

  12. What warriors you both are! My only concrit is that you maybe could do without the last line because the line before it really says it all.

    • Thank you – I wasn’t sure how to end it – I felt like it needed something else, but I was just stuck. I’m not really happy with the last line, but thought too much was probably better than too little.

  13. “Physically on him. Emotionally on mine.”
    Nothing more true could a mother have written.

  14. Oh, I really have a hard time believing he will lament a damn thing about those scars. They’re his trophies, momma! He’ll show them off in the locker room. He’ll woo his girlfriends with them. And one day, he’ll talk about them to his babies while they crawl on his belly. As always, you’re heart is all over the place.

  15. I will have to convince Zachary that his scars are beautiful simply because they saved his life.

    If he sees the look in his mother’s eyes he’ll know.

  16. Great post! I think you really got to the heart of the prompt here:

    “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.”

    You mentioned that you struggled with how to end it. I actually think it could have ended with the statement i quoted above just as successfully! When you brought in how Zachary will feel about his scars into the future, you began introducing a new storyline – with its own line of worries for the narrator: there are many many more writing pieces in there, I am sure.

    Overall, it was a very warm piece. I feel privileged to have read it.

    (by way of TRDC)

  17. Beautiful post. Do you mind if I ask, because I haven’t noticed it elsewhere on your site, do your boys have to take daily anti-rejection meds? My aunt had to have a liver transplant as an adult and had to take daily anti-rejection meds. which were very expensive.

  18. I loved this post. I really did. I could read your writing all day. The desciptions, the warmth, the memories. You painted a vivid picture that drew me in. Beautiful writing.

  19. I love the comparison of physical and emotional scars – that’s great, and it brought me into your world as his mom instead of focusing on just his small body.

    Really like the ending too. It works well.

  20. I love this entire post but the title speaks to me the most. I always like a play on words (as you can tell by my blog name. ha!) and just the meaning that the title holds.

    Your words and sentiment are so very beautiful here. I’m sorry for what your little guys have had to go through but I’m so glad they are with you…

  21. sharon

    Zachary’s incised road map to recovery is something to be proud of indeed and I don’t think it will be such a problem as he grows up. Boys seem to wear scars as a badge of honour. My younger son had surgery on his spine last year and promptly posted the resulting 8 inch wound, stitches and all, over the internet to his friends. The resulting scar has also gone on show! We are just grateful he is still able to walk 😉


  22. Beautifully done. Told in the way only a mom could tell it. I loved the part about how his physical scars are your emotional ones. Fantastic! Just aweome!

    Here from TRDC!

  23. I loved this. So beautiful and real. I so hope he grows up to wear his scars proudly as badges of survival. And maybe his future wife will get a tattoo in the same pattern as a few of his scars so they can be of one tribe, together.

  24. He’s so lucky to have a mama like you, who will teach him to be proud and unashamed of his differences. 🙂

  25. I’m hesitant to tell you this story, because I don’t want you to think for even one second that I’m saying that I know what you and your sweet boy will have to deal with. But, I’m going to tell you anyway and hope that you know that my heart is good.

    I am covered with moles. They are sprinkled everywhere, most are tiny, but I have a few larger ones. My mother never called them moles, she always said they were “beauty marks.” She often pointed out that I was so lucky to have so many…that they were so beautiful.

    To this day, when I see my moles, I see beauty marks. She gave me that gift. She helped me to see beauty where others find ugliness. You are doing that same thing for Zachary. You are helping him to see himself in the best possible way. That is a lovely thing…so incredibly lovely.

    Much love to you…as always.

  26. “Constellation of scars..” Loved that. And I am thankful for them, for it means your little boy is alive and here. You’re right – that is beautiful.

  27. I can’t help but agree with the consensus that he’ll grow into his battle scars just fine!

    And watch out ladies – hey, baby, wanna see my scars?

    With so much love, how can he not?

    I agree with Jennifer, though. You don’t need that last line. Your words put the beauty in. We know they’re beautiful and why just from the power of your narrative!

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