When I was a younger woman, I used to relish the time in a relationship when I collected my paramour’s scar stories. I would lightly trace the scars on hands, feet, arms, legs and coyly inquire where they had come from, how they were acquired.
Those physical scars always seemed to lead to a discussion ripe with the knowledge I was really after – what their emotional scars were and where they hid. As a naïve, infatuated young adult, these were scars I mistakenly thought I could help heal.
Of course, I know all of Mr. Bailey’s scars now. Being a bit clumsy, he’s got a number of them. When we were first married, they all represented adventures or amusing stories he had before me. Now, a good number of the scars represent shared memories – a gash on his wrist a week before our second Christmas together, slightly raised bumps across his broad knuckles from accidentally punching a hole in our ceiling, celebrating our team winning a trip to the Super Bowl.
After so much in-utero anxiety about their health, the first time they laid my pink and perfect babies in my arms, I cried over their unblemished skin, tears I hoped would bless and protect them from any harm.
I remember the moment Prima received the cut that is now a straight, slim two-inch scar on the front of her left hand. I think of that moment every time I catch sight of the scar.
But what really keeps me up at night is the mental gymnastics I do pondering where and how Prima’s and Secondo’s emotional scars will bloom. As any good parent does, I contemplate my role in creating them, which, let’s be honest, always pertains.
Prima and Secondo have already experienced the death of two grandparents, before the
age of 10. A grandfather before Secondo was born, so the scars carried there belong to Mr. Bailey and I; a grandmother just a year ago. For a year, they only rarely spoke of her keen love for her granddaughters, her sparkling smile, the way she made them feel better when they were sick and handwrote thank you notes praising them for small kindnesses they had offered her. But since that year has slipped by in a confusing fog, they’ve begun to ask me to tell them stories, and to explain again why they lost her.
They’ve also lost a teacher, two great-grandparents, and two great uncles, in some cases, quite suddenly.
So I am aware of those scars and try my mother-bear best to prevent smaller losses – friends or routines or cherished playthings – from causing further damage.
Recently, Prima came home from school in an absolute fervor. The band teacher had visited the classroom and she was now on fire to join the band and play the trumpet. Having paid for guitar lessons over the summer that seemed to go well but resulted in a distain for practicing and an interest in a thousand other activities, we were less than enthusiastic. Then we took a look at the costs, and the other activities she was already committed to, we decided to postpone the band for another day.
Prima was completely devastated. There were tears, gnashing of teeth, casting of stones, spasmodic jumping up and down and sad faces for days. Her big brown eyes became orbs of betrayal when she expertly cast them upon us, welling.
I calculated how deep this cut would be. I worried it would result in a lifelong scar. I hoped the band scar might be treated with the happy moments we were also providing: birthday parties! Soccer games! Specialized tutoring! A study hall with her teacher while the other kids were at band! Not so much.
But then, the tide of tears seemed to stem and Prima once again found her happy place. She’s a pleasant child by nature, and I breathed a sigh of relief.
Several days later, I was tucking her and Secondo into their bunk beds. We said our nightly prayer and then I asked each child to tell me who they wanted to pray for. Prima mentioned family and friends, then paused.
“I also want to pray for all of the children who want to do band but their parents won’t let them,” she intoned, reverently.
The dim night light shielded my shocked face as I managed to choke out, “OK. Secondo! Who do you want to pray for?”
So, chalk up another scar. It’s clearly not the first, and certainly not the last.
But maybe, (I can dream) it might be the worst for a little awhile.