I’ve been working on some fun and silly little stories for you but my heart won’t let my mind finish those until it gets to tell its story first. In the last couple of weeks, young and old, man and woman, rich and poor, educated and not, have reminded me of my summer with the scab. While their stories are all quite different their hearts were touched very much the same.
When I was a little girl, one of my favorite things to do in the summer was to ride my bike. Most of the time it was with the neighborhood hot rod Huffy gang and other times it was alone. While the camaraderie of my friends would always be chosen first, I will never forget my times riding alone. Just behind my parents’ home was a long steep hill that ended in a cul-de-sac. While the cul-de-sac is still there the grade of the hill is about half of what it seemed to me as a child. I remember standing up on my bike pedals and putting my arms out to the side and flying down that hill, waiting till the last safe moment to grab my handlebars and sit down. The breeze that would be stirred up blowing cross my face and through my hair was cool even on the hottest summer days. The right side of the hill was lined with several houses but on the left only one. The man who lived there was always outside working in his yard, out jogging, or sitting on his front porch with his wife. He was always friendly and I knew he was kind, but he rarely ever spoke to us; just smiles and head bobs or a little wave with the hose here and there. I remember one day being about halfway up that huge hill and thinking that once again this wouldn’t be the summer that I would be able to ride all the way to the top without stopping. I could tell I was going to have to give up and push my bike the rest of the way. I could barely turn my pedal another stroke when I heard “c’mon” . It was Mr. Wickline on his front porch alone. He stood up and said it again, “c’mon”; like he was helping his favorite horse across the finish line. That little phrase was just what I needed to discover I had a fight in me. I found it and pushed harder and harder and made it to the top. I then stopped and looked down, hoping to see my coach. He smiled and went back to his seat.
It was another hot summer day when I thought I was riding alone again. I was perfecting a new trick to show off later to my gang when my bike slid out from under me in the cinders left behind from our hard winter. I went down. Really hard. My left knee was busted open and my white, rolled down sock was turning red. My hands were filled with little gravels and it hurt and made me cry. I had no choice to stop my tears. Fear of what was going to happen next and how I would manage alone joined in and the tears rolled down my face even though my crying had stopped. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him coming. He picked up my bike and said it again, “c’mon” but it sounded differently and meant something else, but exactly what I wanted to hear. He pushed me home on my makeshift wheelchair and didn’t say a word but said so much. He pushed me home and delivered me to my “nurse” who had a lot to say and excitedly, but being in her care was relief as well. He turned and walked away saying little more than a head nod to my mom.
For the next couple of days I couldn’t do anything without being reminded of my wound. It was so fresh and it burned and I couldn’t get my mind off of it . I remember going up and down steps acting like I didn’t have a knee to bend at all. It was hard to sleep at night at first as my bandage rubbed on my sheets and reminded me freshly of the event .
As the days progressed a scab formed. I started to forget about my wound but sometimes it would crack open and hurt again and remind me that I still had a way to heal.
I was starting to go on about my days with only an occasional and rare reminder of that childhood big deal. I was so excited that I was moving on and would soon forget that it ever happened. The scab was shrinking!
I was playing hard again in the driveway one evening when I tripped and fell and my scab was torn off. It hurt again just like the first time. The pain made me cry but so did the anger and frustration. I thought I was almost over it and I was going to have to start over again! I wasn’t scared this time though, I had been there before and I knew I could heal again.
The summer went on and my scab had almost disappeared, leaving behind traces of pink, shiny, tender skin. It only hurt every once in a while when I got down on my knees or bumped it getting in and out of the car. I remember looking at it sometimes when I was alone. I thought about picking it but I knew this would only slow my healing and make my scar worse. I would think about what happen that day and I could almost feel the pain again but I had a choice to cry if I wanted to now. A lot of the times my mind would stray away from the pain and the accident itself and start thinking about my helper Mr. Wickline, or my mom the nurse waiting on me. Sometimes it would even remind me of how great it felt to ride my bike and to have discovered my strength and fight.
As fall was approaching and I knew my bike would be put away until the next summer, I’d ride by Mr. Wickline’s house and hope to see him out. When everyone else had forgotten about my wound and had moved on, his little head bob or wink would let me know he still remembered and that felt good.
Remembering the process of healing through this silly, little childhood wound has helped me make it through adult ones when there was no blood or cinders in my hands; just a very painful heart and soul. I remember it is going to be a process and I don’t get so frustrated with the ups and downs, knowing they will come. I remember that I’m not alone and how I can fight when I dig deep.
While loss is often unfairly doled, it does not discriminate. All suffer loss over dreams hoped for and have voids that were once filled with loved ones. I know there are wounds that stay painful or tender for a lifetime and I am thankful I have not had to heal any quite like that. However, remembering my summer with the scab helps me get through when it is my turn and reminds me to be a helper or nurse when it’s not. I sometimes want to say, “see look at my scar, it will go away”. I want to remind them that they will have ups and down when they think they are done but not to get mad or frustrated; reminding them that it’s just the process. I want to tell them that one day their scar will remind them that they had won and they were a strong fighter. But I try to remember Mr. Wickline and how saying so little helped so much. Whether encouragement to “c’mon” you can do this, find your fight! Or “c’mon” I’ll keep you safe, you’re not alone. Remembering him also reminds me that as the days or months or even years slip by that a “head bob or wink” letting the wounded know you still remember, helps.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3