Even now, seven months after getting lost in the Chiahuahuan desert, my body is a testament to our ordeal.
I’m still shedding needles.
Every time I think the last of them are gone, another blister forms and another teeny-tiny needle pops out. I’m beginning to think that I’ll still be plucking little cactus spines from my butt when I’m in my 80s.
My torso and thighs are dotted with purplish-red spots. These represent where the biggest needles were embedded.
My legs are a latticework of scars. My thighs and calves are criss-crossed with white lines. These are reminders of the cactus plants that scratched our legs without leaving needles behind.
And then there’s my left arm, which still bears the scars left by a three-inch, fixed-blade knife. Those scars show where I tried to cut into my veins, hoping to drink my own blood.
The strange thing is that I don’t find any of these scars ugly. I’m actually quite proud of them. They remind me of what I endured. They remind me that my body didn’t quit on me. They remind me that I survived, that I am here, that I am with my family and friends.
This year, for the first time in … I don’t know … ever, maybe … I bought a bikini. Not just one, but TWO.
I’m no longer in possession of a 20-year-old body. I’ve had two kids. One was born via an emergency C-section.
And the desert left an even more indelible marks on me. I’m scarred. Probably always will be. And not just physically.
But I’m proud of these scars. They are proof of strength. Proof of miracles. Proof of God’s mercy.
I don’t mind showing them off.
Several months ago, I went to my dermatologist for my annual checkup. I didn’t talk about the desert. And he didn’t bring it up. But I could tell that he knew. It was the way in which he traced the scars on my arms and legs. He was knowing, yet gentle. I almost felt he was paying homage to them.
Or maybe that’s just my own interpretation.
Because not a day passes that I don’t look at my scars and marvel over the fact that I am alive.
The marks all over my body may not be pretty. But they remind me that anything is possible, that some things just cannot be explained.
And I am so, so grateful.