Every scar has a story. The time you ran into a door and told everyone it was a lacrosse accident. The time you rode your bike into a parked car. The time you had a mole removed, cut your finger on a bagel, or burned your arm on the grill. The scar running from the middle of my forehead to the corner of my left eye is still red and new. My kids say I look “bad ass.” My mother guaranteed it will be gone in a year (but she pretty much guaranteed she’d be dead by now, and I talked to her this afternoon). My brother said that it appeared Voldermort was still alive. My grandmother said it could have been a lot worse.
The accident happened while I was hiking with my husband in the White Mountains, off of 93 North, near the Basin, heading for Lonesome Lake. We were looking for a short, easy hike- just enough exercise to justify having a couple of beers with lunch at our favorite garden restaurant near Loon. The trail was muddy, despite the recent hot weather. Mike went up one side, and I the other. As always, it looked better on the other side. I jumped across onto what I thought was solid ground, but it turned out to be a little more like quicksand. My left foot sank in up to my knee, I lost my balance, and I fell right into a tree branch. I didn’t know what hit me.
What followed was a totally calm husband (as in, “I really think we should have that looked at”), who knows his wife tends to faint in medical emergencies. Mike cleaned up my face, we hiked down and drove to the Littleton, NH emergency room.
As the ER doctor Derma-bonded the laceration, I jokingly asked him (in the style of, “Will I be able to play the piano after you operate on my finger?”), “Will I be beautiful after you repair my face?” But he didn’t have much of a sense of humor, and I was not happy with his response: “Everyone heals differently.”
In a year or two, if someone, somehow, catches me without makeup and asks about the scar, I will probably sigh and say, “Hiking in NH,” with a “what can you expect when you are such an athlete?” kind of look, and that will be enough. The back story will fade with the scar, but I hope I will remember the thoughts I have now, when it is still raw.
I hope that scar will remind me of my father, because the emergency room joke was his joke, though his telling of it would have elicited a chuckle. If I were able to show my dad my injury, he would have touched his forehead and said, “Does it hurt when you go likethis?” And I would have smiled knowing what was coming next: “Well…” he would have said, “don’t go like that.”
I hope that scar will remind me of other NH hikes gone by. Hikes with rosy-cheeked babies, sitting tall in backpacks. Hikes with the kids in the lead down trails lined with yellow, orange, and red. Fall hikes with hail and fog. Summer hikes with the dog bounding in and out of the icy river water, emerging covered in mud.
That scar may remind me that I have marked my life by the topics discussed while trekking New Hampshire’s trails, year after year, with great friends. Twenty years ago on those hikes, we compared preschools and fretted over whether socks might get wet in the river (you know how little girls are.) Ten years ago we talked about how the kids were faring at camp. Still later on the trail, we talked about the kid’s summer programs, the pressures of high school, shopping for prom dresses, college life, and more recently, jobs and passions.
Two weeks before my accident, stepping over the same tree stumps, traversing that same river, with those same friends, we talked about a time when we might no longer be capable of hiking that trail, reminding ourselves with a laugh that we should always bring a few Bayer aspirins along, just in case.
I hope the scar will remind me of how much I adore and rely on my husband. It was Mike who insisted calmly that we go to the emergency room. It was Mike who held my hand on the way down, and Mike who sacrificed his hat so that I did not need to sacrifice my favorite Lululemon jacket. The scar will remind me that it is Mike who always plans out the route, fills up the water bottles, and makes sure we haven’t forgotten bug spray.
It will remind me that it was Mike who forgot to pack a first aid kit. But this will simply serve to remind me that no one is perfect.
I know that scar will remind me that as I get older, each bump, fall, or accident, makes me a little bit more cautious and afraid, and I have to fight against that.
It will remind me that beauty really is only skin deep, but if you are as vain as I, there are always eyebrow tattoos.
That scar will remind me how important it is to know a really good plastic surgeon. Anybody got a good recommendation?