Turning my head tenderly to the left, I glanced at them in the mirror through the steam.
Six, quarter-inch, dark blue stitches are pulling my skin together.
The nylon threads forcefully merge two sides left from the removal of a minor something. A something, they said, that could be a bigger something if neglected.
I’m now missing a crescent of seemingly dangerous freckles transferred to my back with a kiss from the sun while coaching tennis in the summer months.
Skin pulled taught, knotted tendrils, and a wound remain.
The incision looks badass, sure, and more importantly has the power to make me woozy with the application of band-aids, vaseline, and tape. What we survive is nauseatingly awe-inspiring – how we breath through required work of tending our healing is beyond me.
I spent this weekend moving slowly, rising from chair, lowering to couch, and still lower to my bed. Each move felt tender and heavy, the pressure from pulling skin reminding me of the work it takes to bring things forever changed back together again.
In the days and months after losing my dad I wrote a lot about unraveling. I wrote about how a significant chord had been cut when he left this world.
Someone was perched at the edge, throwing my big ball of yarn I’d worked so hard to gather down the stairs without asking for my permission.
Bounce – there went our jobs.
Bounce – there went big relationships.
Bounce – there went holidays, and traditions, and the layer of security when both parents are accessible by phone.
So, I wrote about tapestries and embroidery and threads to help me finger the loss and the holes and the missing pieces. I snarled at the snaggles, and left the yarn running through my house without energy, limp, and ready to be played with by whomever treaded by. Who cares? It was all unraveled anyway.
I never gave much thought to the attempts at assembly we’ve been doing until I sat in a sterile room wearing a patterned robe with my back exposed and numb. In a quick out-patient procedure someone had poked me with a thread and a needle and literally sewed me back together again.
They finished the procedure, and I sat up. I asked for a glass of water and the nurse, noting my color, gave me a small can of orange juice instead. I sipped and I listened and noted the irony found in the hopes of sugar used to calm my shaking hands.
“The best thing you can do is lay right on your back on the floor,” instructed the RN who was younger than me. “Perhaps lay on a bag of frozen peas.”
“Right on my back?” I asked with big eyes. “Isn’t that going to hurt?”
“At first,” she responded, “but the pressure will help you heal.”
In year one – I was entirely focused on the dark, oozing hole left from the quick snip of his exit.
In year two – there was immense pressure. I laid on my back for hours, staring at ceilings, at walls, at the spaces in between. The pain of grief is unbearable and confusing. You need Tylenol Extra Strength and tissues and healing ointment in various forms.
In year three – I’m learning something greater than me has started stitching again on my body, my heart, my life. With my participation, we’re bringing things together again to fuse what is left over the hole.
I’m approaching year four and I’m noticing … my scar is fucking huge.
But I am healing. What a beautiful thing.