Badges

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Last night I caught a glimpse of the tattoo on my boyfriend's left shoulder blade as he was toweling off after a shower. I've seen that tattoo nearly every single day, but last night I couldn't help but smile in its direction. It reminded me of something. A badge.
This little symbol is one of his badges. Some little reminder of something that he had gone through, something that made such an impression on him that it had literally left behind its mark. I know because I have nearly the exact same badge on my shoulder blade.
Not terribly far from the badge on his shoulder there is the scar on his right hip from a bicycle accident that he told me about over drinks on our very first date. Perhaps after I had already told him about my crooked middle finger, mangled in a door slamming accident back in 1995. Mom wears one of her badges on her chest, a scar from the port-a-cath that was removed after she had beaten breast cancer. We all have badges and they each tell a story.

Every day I see patients baring their badges, their scars, their stories and I can't help but wonder what they each have to say. Most of the time I really can't help it, and I ask them to tell me about that faded panther tattoo they got when they were 18 at the county fair, or that scar on their elbow from a hoverboard ride with the grandchildren gone wrong. Some of these badges cause a smile, maybe even laughter when explained to the inquirer. Some badges will forever be painful, acting as a constant reminder of something that would preferably be forgotten. But all of these marks represent something that cannot be changed. And for that, these badges are honorable. Whatever it was, you made it out alive. You experienced it. And you learned from it. Regardless of how it got there, you're the one standing here today still able to look at it. That is something we should all be grateful for.

So I took a good hard look at my body tonight, reliving memories and acknowledging my own story. I found the beauty in each of my badges as I took the time to tell myself what I liked about every single one of them. Nobody else wears the exact same collection of badges that I do. And I just love that.

Your badges are beautiful. Wear them proudly, darlings.

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