Staring at my Scar in the Bathroom Mirror

We all have scars, don’t we? Some are plainly visible, some are fully healed, and some are in our minds. Regardless, they all left a mark just the same.

Like most, I have a few of the visible variety still kicking around. There’s the one on my knee that resulted from playing demolition derby with my friends while riding our bikes. I was fifteen or so, high as fuck, slamming bikes into my friends (who were also high as fuck). In an attempt to elude a head-on collision, I steered sharply to the right, which sent me down a hill that was substantially steeper than I expected. Hitting a big-ass rock, I was flown head-first over the bike. Landing awkwardly, I ripped—not cut, ripped—the skin of my knee wide apart. It was a nasty four-inch gash, open to the bone: visible scar number one.

Then there’s the one on the side of my thumb, still present after thirty-plus years. This time, I wasn’t high-as-fuck; I was twenty-one, working construction. My boss Bill, who happened to be a bit of an asshole, was grabbing plywood from me. I was on the ground, while he was on the second floor. My technique was to hold the plywood on the sides and with my back towards Bill, raise the sheet up and over my head for him to pull up. Unfortunately, Bill was not only an asshole, he was reckless and lacked communication skills. Without any warning, he yanked the plywood. Because I still firmly secured the wood, the sides slid along my hands and a massive splinter entered my thumb. At the emergency room, the doctor was at first perplexed, unsure of what bulged from my hand. Slicing his scalpel deeper, the doc was amazed when he opened the wound, pulling out a 3-inch hunk of wood about the thickness of my pinky. Why was my boss an asshole? Many reasons. But on this occasion because he never apologized; he actually blamed me for the accident. Possible douche bag?

Then there are the scars that fade over time; eventually, you don’t even remember exactly where they were. Like when I stepped on a nail—again, high-as-fuck. I was sixteen at the time and I still remember that cringe-worthy feeling when i felt the fully-inserted nail slide out of my foot. It hurt at the time and I bled a fair bit, but the puncture wound healed nicely. For several months the entry point was sensitive to the touch and for several years, the location was clearly apparent. A decade or so later though and all evidence of the nail’s damage was gone.

The mental scars? Oh, I’ve got plenty. It comes, with life, doesn’t it? Who amongst us doesn’t have those memories and moments that are etched in our brains, some more permanent than others? For me? It’s childhood. Always childhood. The abuse, the trauma, the lack of love, the disdain. But there’s also those mistakes I made, later in life. Giving up high school wrestling—something I was pretty darn good at—because I’d rather party with my friends. That feeling of lose, that I never tried my hardest, that I never allowed myself the opportunity to see how far I could go. It’s a permanent regret, one that I ponder to this day. Then there’s the hurtful things I said and did in my first marriage. And there’s the eating disorder, a particularly deep and unhealable wound. The failings of my parenting, the events that brought shame and embarrassment, and the times I just wasn’t a good friend: the list is long and wide, and one that I’m not quite prepared to fully review. For that, I’ll need a safer setting and one with a therapist present.

But the scar that prompted this post? Right there, below:

If possible, ignore the beautiful smile, endearing eyes and ripped abs. Instead…

I happen to like the way I look, Dickmoji. It took me awhile to get here—40 fucking years or so—but I like me. Eyes, face and sorta-fluffy abs included. Can we refocus on the scar, though?

You are right, Dickmoji. Plural. There’s the three-inch scar running vertically down the center of my belly, a less prominent two-inch one, below and to the left of my belly button, and a third one, also associated with this life event—where I don’t even know where the F it is any longer.

Why, on this day, was I focused on these stomach blemishes? I’m not really sure, other than perhaps it’s approaching two years since I elected to go under the knife.

I did. And I’d do it again, willingly. For this woman:

Grow up, Dickmoji. If I have to explain which person is a woman, you need to get a replacement set of cartoon avatar eyes. And let me remind you, I have that power. Regretfully, I created your silly ass. But, I also have the ability to correct that mistake. Just a few clicks on my IPhone and you’re gone, Dickmoji. Remember that.

Aww, feelings hurt, Dickmoji? Spare me the drama. I’ve got a blog to finish:

Yes, I elected to get surgery. And although I didn’t do it for that reason, I am proud of what I did. I saved a life: the life of my love and the life of my eventual-wife.

I got cut for love. Simple as that. Honestly though, I’m sure I would’ve donated my kidney to another loved one, and probably even a liked one (and maybe even for a total stranger, had the opportunity arisen). But that’s not how life played out. It played out by me meeting my destiny—by chance, by being at point where I was close to accepting that I’d be alone for the balance of my life. But instead, I rolled the dice—just like Nikki did, when she also signed up for that dating app.

And before I knew it, I was deeply in love: I announced that fact to her ten days after we met. I’m still surprised she didn’t run away from the absurdity of how quickly I declared my emotions. But she didn’t; she loved me also.

Again, why the focus on the scars? Maybe just because it’s so surreal, Still—two years later—it’s hard to believe what happened.

I remember the instant Nikki told me of her disease, and how she was scared I would walk away, not wanting to be burdened. Not a chance, my love.

I remember thinking about it for a minute, then offering up my kidney. She never asked, not once. It was my decision, solely, without any pressure. Because that’s the kinda beautiful soul my wife possesses.

I remember the year’s worth of tests, the sixty vials of blood, and having to do it all over again, because the first hospital just wasn’t a good match. But we were a good match, in life, and for the kidney donation process.

I remember the months leading up to the surgery and the minutes prior. Never once was I nervous or scared. It just felt so right.

I remember waking up after surgery, seeing my love, and both of us greeting in unison, “Hey, Bebe,” our playful modification of the word, babe.”

I remember the sadness I felt, when Nikki told me she thought I had died during the operation. I felt so bad for her having to experience that sense of loss—I can’t imagine being in her shoes and the feeling of losing her.

I remember seeing her post-surgery—fully lucid this time—and seeing how beautiful she looked, her face already benefiting from my kidney flushing out the toxins.

One kidney for me and three for you, my Queen.👸🏾❤️

And I remember the recovery—more difficult than I expected, with more setbacks than I hoped. We still tease each other, comparing the hardships we experienced, each claiming their own to be more challenging.

Doctor’s aside: typically, the donor’s recovery is more difficult than the recipient’s. Sure, the donor has to worry about rejection and the scar is substantially more pronounced, but…

True. I was paraphrasing, Dickmoji (at least, that’s how I remember the doc’s conversation, my love.).

Anyway, I still have no clear answer why I’m remembering what I’m remembering, and blogging what I’m blogging. Maybe it was that Facebook post, from Nikki’s friend—now my friend, now my adopted sister—that praised me for saving her best friend’s life?

Maybe. But not likely. More likely that it was just…life and the profound realization that we never know where our paths will lead or whose path we will cross. Not all scars are created equal and not all are chosen. This one’s substantially more meaningful and whether it fades or not, each day reminds us of the lessons of the past and the beauty that is sure to come.

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