Grief Journal: Scar Tissue

Many years ago, I ruptured one of my ankle ligaments. At the time, the doctor told me it would have been better to actually break the bone. “Bones can essentially heal,” he said. “Your ligament will never be the same; our goal is to create the strongest scar tissue possible to retain the most function.”

When I was in high school, I injured the synovial tissue in my knee (and people say cheerleading isn’t a contact sport). It too has never been the same; to this day, my knee swells if I try to run.

I could go on and on but there is little as boring as other people’s medical problems. The point is, sometimes an injury occurs and the best we can hope for is that the scar tissue allows us to still function. We will never be as we were before, and shouldn’t expect the same level of performance.

I think that happens emotionally and spiritually, too. 

For whatever reason, a lot of us have been thinking of Charlie lately. I don’t know if it’s because the weather has finally turned to fall so we’re more conscious of the dying of the year, or what, but he’s been weighing on so many hearts. School friends of his miss him keenly as they adjust to middle school. His sister and brother feel his absence like a lost tooth, poking at the sore spot. Yesterday, his father and I sat on a park bench and cried while watching some kids play, because he should have been there.

None of us who loved him will ever be the same. We’ve been injured too deeply by what we lost. We can heal, we can go on, but we won’t be the same as before. 

For me, one of the things that’s been affected most is my emotional resilience. Stuff doesn’t just bounce off the way it used to. My hard protective shell is just a thin candy veneer, liable to crack at any moment. Mind over matter doesn’t work. My will is no longer a V8 engine powering me forward. Instead, I’m pushing a lawnmower through waist-high grass.

But I keep pushing. I keep getting up every day. I keep trying, stretching the scar tissue that’s barely holding me together.