A dear friend’s daughter recently started to come to terms with scarring she has on her chest from several opened heart surgeries she has endured in her short thirteen years. Understandably, she felt self conscious about them and their unfortunate placement, especially for a girl who wants to be able to wear cute tops, sometimes with lower neck lines. But it’s more than just coming to terms with the actual scars. They are in no small way a part of who she is. They represent her survival and the magic that is her. For that reason, they are beautiful.

Her writing about her scars got me thinking about Cole’s scars. He too has had a great many reminders of his strength and survival. His body is a map of his life in some ways. At birth he had chest tubes, represented by tiny “x’s” on either side of his upper torso. His little belly button has miniscule prick scars from something early in his life. Funny, I can’t recall what it was. A monitor of some sort I think. If you look closely at his eyes, there is a little scarring on the inner whites from a corrective ocular surgery to uncross his eyes when he was about eighteen months.

His calves have two sets of linear incision scars running down the back of each leg from two different surgeries to lengthen the tendons to give him more flexibility. He has similar scars in the crook of his upper inner thighs. Each hip has a slash where plates were inserted, one side to prevent slippage of his hip, and the other to repair the slippage and reinforce it.

And then there’s the tiny indentation scar on his right temple, caused by none other than his dear mother when he and I were in Newport Beach wandering the ocean side looking for a beach house rental for the upcoming summer. We hit a rough patch on the sidewalk and his wheelchair flew from my hands, into the street (thankfully a very quiet, traffic free street) and landed on its side. His eyeglasses nicked his temple. He strapped in safely never hit the ground, just kind of sat on his side with the arm of the wheelchair against the pavement. In one fell swoop, I righted the chair and he burst out laughing while I cried…

I don’t know how he feels about his scars. Many can’t be seen due to their locale. Even his leg scars are often hidden by the long tube socks and AFO’s (leg braces) he wears to stabilize his walking. The only scar in view always is the one I caused…normal wear and tear of childhood, kind of. I have a similar indentation in my forehead where my grandmother accidentally closed my head in a door…The only time most his scars are visible is when he’s bathing, or in the summer when he lives in shorts and swimsuits. His friends don’t ask about them. I don’t know if they even notice them. He’s always in motion so they kind of blend into the landscape of Cole.

I treasure each one because they serve as reminders of the force that is Cole.

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