The man with the beard looked different this morning once his clothes were cut off him. His leather jacket is folded and rests on top of his blood-stained t-shirt and “holy” jeans. He is covered with nothing but a white sheet now. A long, braided ponytail rests beside his head. There is a short incision on his right shoulder from the embalming. His left shoulder, however, bears other marks. There is a black and gray tattoo of a pin-up girl covering his deltoid muscle, and right above her, there is a jagged scar. The scar looks healed over well, but it appears to be from a nasty gash of some type. The girl below it looks unaffected, as if she lives in a bubble, unable to see or hear what is going on right above her head. Maybe she came along after the scar. The scar is uneven, not neat like a surgical scar, and it brings to mind imaginings of some sort of fight or accident. Perhaps this was not his first motorcycle wreck. Maybe this tough as nails man had a battle scar. Whatever caused it had to have hurt.
Other people will have scars form over wounds today too. The harsh truth is that pain is a reminder of an ever aching presence of the limitations of being human.
A surgery goes horribly wrong and the nurses call down from the ICU. He will not make it through the night. His incision is so fresh the doctors do not even sew it all the way shut. It does not matter because there is no physical way it can heal now. The opening will not form a scar no matter how long they wait or how tightly it is sutured. For his family, however, it is not his wound which concerns them anymore, it is their own sudden, crippling grief.
Deep wounds are opened by the raw tragedy of parents holding a still baby. The room is silent except for their tears. The little girl’s skin is perfect yet delicate, almost translucent. Her eyes never opened. Many hopes will be buried along with their baby girl, and many of their thoughts and emotions may stay unprocessed for a long while. A scar is already forming across her mother’s belly from the C-section. It will live on her as a constant reminder of this loss.
A widow is placed next to her husband in the ground and old, tired grief is quieted at last. Her grandson looks down with tears in his eyes as he notices the burn mark on the back of his hand. He was glad he got to have breakfast with her one last time a few days earlier–even if he did catch his hand on the oven as he pulled out the pan of muffins. His scar will bring him good memories tinged with the abrupt finality of death.
Searing pain will give eventually give way for healing to begin. The color and thickness and elasticity of each scar will change over time, but the affected area will never again be the same. Every scar has a story, and standing over them brings questions and fears.
As a fresh, clean t-shirt is pulled over the jagged scar above the black and gray pin-up girl, another scar is laid to rest. It is covered now, and with it goes its story. The pain is no more. All that is left now is a lingering sense of tenderness and a hopeful glimpse of things how they ought to be.