Again, my memory is failing me. I don’t remember when exactly this happened. It was probably about a year ago when Liya was 3 years old. I was changing clothes and she saw my c-section scar. I had considered the scar unsightly and had thought about getting something called Scaraway healing sheets to erase it but never got the time to do so. What Liya said at that time totally changed my perspective. She said: “Mommy, you have a smiley face! Your nipples are the eyes. Your belly button is the nose. Your scar is the mouth.” A scar, a traumatic experience, or a painful memory, can be something completely different when looked at with a different mindset. Liya didn’t know how hard I had tried to avoid the C-section. She didn’t consider the scar a bad thing, rather, the scar completed the smiley face on mommy’s body.
My childhood trauma, as time went on, became a scar. It became a part of who I am, more like a birthmark due to its early onset. In elementary school, I used to cry when a new teacher asked about my father. But by the time I was a teenager, people often said they couldn’t believe I was from a single parent family because I was a cheerful giggler most of the time. I wore my heart on my sleeve, but I didn’t wear my scar on my sleeve. It was carefully hidden lest I would do something uncharacteristic of me. The reason I was reminded of this scar twice recently, I think, is because I saw the interaction between my husband and my kids. I was reminded again and again how much I had missed out in my childhood. When I calm down after these sadness attacks hit me, I feel thankful that the scar didn’t destroy me, but instead, it made me stronger. Loss of parents was a life event that everyone would probably have to experience sooner or later. From a different perspective, my scar might be a gift my father left me and it might have been teaching me some life lessons.
It is true that there wasn’t a father figure in my family when I grew up, but my father’s absence wasn’t felt spiritually. I always believed and still believe that my father is watching over me and my mom. In my own superstitious way, I believed he had some super power. When I “visited” him, I made wishes and burned letters that I had written to him beforehand. Instead of praying to a religious figure, I prayed to my father. He became my religion. Didn’t he grant me every single wish in the past? Didn’t a psychic reader say that my father was massaging my mom’s leg after she had the surgery in 1997, and she didn’t feel the pain at all when the anesthesia was wearing off?
This earliest memory taught me my first life lesson: life is not perfect. You have to accept the imperfection, reconcile with whatever hand you are dealt and live with it. In a way, I don’t want to consider myself or my family being victimized by that event as 小钊 suggested because I didn’t grow up to be a bitter, angry cynic. I learned not to take anything or anyone for granted. Through my reflections while writing this essay, I also learned I need to count my blessings instead of being fixated on the unsatisfactory, as what Sarah Silverman said in Take this Waltz and NewVoice Sis brought my attention to: ‘Life has a gap in it. It just does. You don’t go around trying to fill it like a lunatic.’ In my silly superstitious thinking, I want to believe this is the message my father was trying to send me when I was running on the treadmill, and when I was driving my kids to the beach.