I have a scar just beneath my lower lip.
I had it all my life and I have no clue as to how I got it. I figured it could be from being reckless in the creek behind our house in Virginia, rough housing with Ryan, or riding down the stairs in laundry baskets. I compare it with my freckles: I am so used to them being on my skin that I think everyone has them.
I have another scar right above my right eye, somewhat hidden beneath my eyebrow.
I know you gave me that scar because you laughed when you saw I still had it a couple of years ago.
“You were a baby,” you explained. “You were crawling around in the den while I was sitting in the recliner.” I imagine my ginger-haired, big-headed baby self roaming around on all fours.
Exploring, investigating, doing what babies do.
You continued, “I was watching t.v. when you must have wandered your way under the chair. I lost track of you and when I closed the recliner, I heard you start wailing from inside the chair.”
I run my index finger across my right eyebrow. The scar is less than a half-inch from my eye socket. I can only imagine what the gash would have looked like if the scar has lasted over two decades. A part of me wonders what would have happened if my head was tilted just a half-inch more.
I took your story of my scar with a grain of salt, but I felt inexplicably unsettled.
Babies get into accidents all the time, I told myself. It’s part of growing up: learning to thrive and all that.
It wasn’t until I rescued my cat, Bacon, when she was three-weeks-old and abandoned by her mother at a barn in Pennsylvania. When I was convincing Dave to adopt her with me, I tried to guilt him into it with my self-deprecating sense of humor. “Dave,” I joked, “we have to take her in. She was abandoned by her mother, just like me!”
You see, Mom, I never let anyone sit in the recliner when Bacon would roam about. If they made a fuss about their need to sit back and recline, I would only allow it once I found Bacon and kept a watchful eye on her. I would scream if anyone attempted to close the chair before I had a chance to locate Bacon.
She was so little that she could slide underneath the doors in the apartment.
I always kept my ears on high alert to hear her little claws sliding around on the hardwood floors. I became obsessed with the recliner and anyone who dared to sit in it when Bacon was scurrying around the living room.
Exploring, investigating, doing what kittens do.
That’s when it clicked in my head.
I was more hyper-aware of where this little fur baby was than you were with your real baby. And I can’t help but wonder if your drinking had anything to do with the scar above my eyebrow.
I remember you driving us from Virginia to New Jersey late at night and being jolted when your car would swerve onto the rumble strip of the Parkway.
I think of how I couldn’t shake you awake from the couch when you were sleeping and how you had your sewing kit with a hidden bottle of vodka close by.
When I look at that scar above my eye, I’m reminded.
Did you know they call the rumble strip “drunk bumps?”