My husband was at a store the other day and a guy in the same aisle started staring wide eyed at the jagged unforgiving red and purple lines that encompass his entire arm. The scars that leave a mystery to the unassuming yet tell a story of life changing in an instant.
It was obvious that he was trying to figure out what he had to have done to end up with an arm that disfigured and fingers slightly curved and paralyzed in place. It wasn't long before his curiousity finally got the best of him.
"What happened to your arm?" he blurted out, as though it were any of his business.
This is usually the part where I would've explained what happened, which is usually followed by apologetic looks of sympathy and a mumbled thank you for your service.
My husband simply said, "I got hurt." He left it at that and walked away because he's not about to be into all of that hero stuff.
At one time, his body had over a thousand stitches. In the first few months after he was released from the hospital, people would stare when we went out somewhere. Eating was awkward for him because he couldn't hold any utensils and it took some practice learning to use his non-dominate hand. Sometimes I had to cut up his food for him because he couldn't do it. Even now he'll randomly drop things or spill something because there's no strength in his arm or his hand just won't work.
We take so much stuff for granted. Sometimes the smallest things are the biggest challenges for someone else. He works hard at just being normal and making the most out of the hand that he's been dealt, that sometimes I forget he's wounded. I don't really notice the scars and to our kids they are just a part of who he is. We spent so much time at the hospital and in lodging around other wounded warriors that the kids learned to just be accepting of everyone else. I never had to tell them not to point and stare or not to ask questions. If you ask my oldest what she remembers most about her daddy being in the hospital, she'll probably tell you that her little Lightning McQueen car fell down into the elevator shaft. Or maybe she'll recall blowing out four birthday candles while sitting on the hospital bed.
Sometimes I miss being at that hospital and being around other wounded warriors and their families. As stressful as it was at times, there's comfort in being surrounded people people who just simply get it and understand the same sudden detour that our lives took. We never had to worry about people staring or asking questions. Everyone had some sort of battle scars, telling their own stories without words, yet connecting them all from where they'd been.