I sport a little scar on the back of my right ring finger.  The faint, smooth line crosses that first joint crease on a diagonal, from left to right.  It’s hard to see, unless you know it’s there.  I “earned” that scar –certainly not my first OR last– when I was washing dishes during a holiday celebration at our house at the tender age of 13.  I know it was a holiday, because I was washing my mom’s good silver.  She only brings out the good silverware (a wedding gift from her grandma) for holidays.  As I was washing one of her shiny, silver butter knives, the suds-soaked washcloth slipped and the knife sliced through my wet, water-wrinkled finger.  The water turned crimson.  I remember thinking I must have cut an artery, because blood was gushing out.  I yanked my hands out of the dishwater and screamed.  My older sister, Annalee, came running into the kitchen, slipping in a small puddle of blood on our green linoleum floor.  My mother ran in shortly thereafter, grabbed the nearest dish towel and wrapped it tightly around my finger.  And squeezed.  Hard.  She held my hand above my head and kept squeezing.  After what seemed like hours, the bleeding finally stopped.  My hand was numb from elevating it and from the pressure, but my finger was throbbing.  My parents told to keep my hand above my head and ice on my finger.  Our resident “pseudo” physcian, a.k.a. my dad, put a butterfly bandage on the cut.  And I got out of doing dishes for a while.  I remember that day vividly.  It happened almost 30 years ago, but I can replay the whole scene in my head like an old movie.  The place where I cut myself doesn’t hurt anymore, but the scar is still there.  And when I see the scar, I’m reminded of the pain.  I’m reminded of that day.

My sister, Annalee, died 2 years ago last week.  She was 42.  For those of us left behind who loved her, including her two beautiful children, the pain hasn’t gone away.  It never will.  Time has been kind enough to lessen it, a little bit at a time, but it’s still here.  We’ve just learned to live with it.  It has become part of us.  Like a scar.  And it may fade, but it will never disappear completely.  I wear no physical scar to remind me of that day, but the emotional scar is a vast one.  It covers a thousand blessed memories, from childhood to adulthood.  Yes, life goes on.  But occasionally, it’s interrupted… by a photo, a story, the sound of her name on someone’s lips… and that whole, ugly day slices through me all over again.  I thank God for what’s underneath that scar to help get me through those times.  The joyous celebrations, the precious time spent together, and the laughter shared.  I have to believe time –and love– heals.  Even the scars you can’t see.

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