There are scars you don’t see. While watching my kids play on the playground, every step I took was painful and a reminder of my body s-l-o-w-l-y recovering. I had a complication with surgery, resulting in an abscess forming under my midline incision. The surgeon had to literally cut my stomach open, right before my unphased-by-the-small-dose-of-morphine eyes. I got to go home from the hospital to recover. I had to learn to pack gauze down inside my abdomen. Two times a day. With three young children. It was gross. Messy. And weird. My incision had to heal from the inside out. Oh, the irony. The problem with having a hidden wound that affects your movements, your attitude, and your overall existence is that people don’t see it. Out of sight, out of mind. They don’t know that beneath your clothes lies an open, awful reminder of your fraility and the vulnerabilities brought on by an ugly disease. A disease you didn’t choose to have.

Standing in the park that day, the thought occurred to me that we are all walking around with wounds. Some fresh, new, others still healing, and some old. But they’re still there. Scars. Physical, the ones you see and can touch. They may lie underneath, or be right there, for all to see. They may fade with time but they remain a reminder of weakness and strength, at the same time. And there are the emotional scars, the heart scars. Feeling alone. Relationships gone wrong. The pain of missing someone so badly. All that you want do is sleep but you can’t. Because they’re gone. Or experiencing someone else’s agony so closely and hurting so deeply that the pain lingers. And changes you.

This world can be so overwhelmingly beautiful. And yet, it can be so damn hard. People can be unkind, impatient, and uncompassionate. They don’t pause to notice. Your eyes. Your disposition. How slowly you are walking. Or how fast. Maybe you’ve become a master in hiding your pain from others. What if we thought more about the person that we just encountered? Or are about to meet? We purposely changed the way we looked at, talked to or even thought about her? I have experienced how insanely impactful a kind word or a genuine conversation can be in these types of difficult, suffocating moments. Moments where putting one foot in front of the next is daunting. Moments where all you can do is fight back the burning tears, trying not to blink, until you make it to your car. Or the bathroom. Or through your front door. They are moments when you just… Can’t…….Breathe.

I have had plenty of days where I felt like if I could just stick a “FRAGILE: handle, talk to, look at with care” sticker on my chest, then people could know that it is one of those excruciatingly tough days. It would act as a visible sign for people to know to smile more, tread lightly, be kind. And please be patient with me. I think we all have these type of days. And the thing is, we all have these beautiful complicated minds. Equipped with a powerful imagination. Maybe we can try and envision a “fragile” sticker on every person we meet. Even if, or especially when they are grouchy, rude or unkind. We could try and think less about ourselves and more about the person right there in front of us. We hold the power to make an impact on one another. In that feel really good, life-altering awesome kind of way. So, we can rest assured that yes, in fact, this life is filled with beautiful people. And you are one of them.

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