Last summer I was cleaning my shed when I tripped on my patio and fell down hard. At the time, I had been holding clay pots that and they crashed and broke on the slates. When my face and hands planted on the shards I was cut up pretty badly.
Suffice it to say this was the worst accident I can ever remember. My neighbor came to the rescue and took me to an ER where I got some expert care, but I did need 20 stitches, ten on my face and 10 on my wrist, which actually proved to be the deepest cut.
That was five months ago and I am amazed to report that if you met me on the street today, you wouldn’t know that I had such a bad fall. But, one day after the accident I needed to go somewhere and didn’t feel safe driving so I took the bus. Though my face was now both bruised and boasting a chain of sutures, no one looked twice because my mask covered everything.
That wasn’t always the case. On some early Zoom calls in late summer I could see people wincing. The first time it happened I said something that just popped into my mind. “We all have scars; some are easier to see than others.” I couldn’t tell you where that came from, but I remember the words just came to me. Like many good ideas that don’t quite feel like you invented them, but just discovered them as you gave voice to them, this insight helped me as much as anyone.
It helped me to remember that I had a new scar and I’d never be exactly the same again. It was freeing to remember we all have scars. Most of us imagine we can hide them but some are more obvious than others and they are all visible to some degree. Its humbling but the better part of wisdom to start with that realization.
I think we all need to acknowledge, at this point in the pandemic, that we all have been and still are being scarred by this experience. We have all sustained losses – of freedom and connection. Whole chunks of our lives have been ripped up, pulled apart, dismantled and need to be stitched together again. Then the fabric of life has been ripped apart by the huge loss of now 800,000 Americans and __world-wide, people we love dearly, and strangers whose loss shakes us at some level. We will bear the marks of this experience in our hearts and souls for a while, probably forever. Somehow, there is a certain relief in just admitting that.
When we take these masks off, finally, and see one another we’ll see the weariness in our eyes, the worry lines in our faces. But I hope we’ll also see the glimmers of light that some survivors have, the strength that only struggle brings and the marks of resilience. When I look back on that day when I fell, I don’t re-think it and worry about how I could have avoided it. It just happened. I feel grateful for the way our bodies have the capacity to heal, gratitude for all the people who helped me and utter wonder. Just wonder at having come this far.