As suggested by @greggr in his creative writing prompt - This is a topic I tend to shy away from, but here'goes!
I know it's odd, the way I casually strum my chest. I sweep my hand from left to right. I let my fingers glide along my clavicle: over, then down to the center of my chest until my fore and middle fingers slide familiarly across the rough, tender pink - which begins there and extends twenty inches downward, nearly to my navel.
Often times, the almost unintentional act regresses me emotionally. I travel back to a space and time of hiding under high necklines and scarves, ruminating over superficialities that fuel my self isolation. Eventually, I'll find myself flirting with the banal but toxic notions that being a patient is something shameful.
Because sans-scarves, every passerby can see my brokenness...that which bisects me completely. I fear the division reveals both warring parts of me, the well and deserving versus the frail and unworthy. Sometimes they simply stare. I wonder who will draw the short-straw and be compelled to inquire about the "gnarly beast".
When they do, as if surprised and on cue, I'll raise my hand back up to my chest letting my fingers grace the rough patch. I'll draw quick, nervous breaths, while trying to both cover and protect the nerve-damaged and marred skin from further scrutiny. With tired resignation my hand will finally rest there, seemingly at home again.
Oh, yes - there it is, that familiar jarring pang, the tiny shock wave that jolts me back to my reality. For a brief moment, I had let myself slip into forgetting that my life is so tenuous. I should thank the curious stranger for reminding me...
So, when they ask I oblige them. Despite all misgivings, I become possessed by a little nagging tick, a responsibility to educate which remains in staunch opposition to my underwhelming desire to share.
I become desperate to separate myself from the "poor girl" in my story. Like, I am not her, the one with "early-onset congenital congestive heart failure, blah, blah, blah..."
But it is as plain as the scar (nose) on my chest (face).
I deny that it consumes me, but it colors everything I touch, tainting every thought and breath. Because of it, I am humbled by all the new mornings and countless moments to try again and again, and again to...not fuck it up. The pressure to make my survival worthwhile seems insurmountable and I question how I will ever live up to the suffocating expectation, self imposed or otherwise. This brings me to the real truth of the pink twenty-incher.
My (now) bionic heart will eventually run out like the battery of an old clock. And it will still itself despite the defibrillator and pacer inside designed to keep it going. I will cease to be and I'm afraid the memory of me will be reduced to some kind of do-good-ing-heart-disease-awareness statistic. Or to nothing at all. Am I more, or less than that?
By then not much else will be done. Surgeons can only toil and tinker elbow-deep in there so many times before the practice of splaying me open becomes a moot one. Superfluous and pointless. Oh, the tedium! What's the saying about, "only so many ways to skin a cat?"
The flash of knowing fingers across my scar reminds me though: I have few options but to continue straddling the fence between the indifferent, nonchalant cool I wish to embody and the traumatized, vulnerable, frankensteinish, fucked-up freak I've become. I just have to continue living inbetween for a while. After all, the alternative sucks. And I don't think I'm ready to be reduced to ash, fertilizer, and a memorial card on someone's dusty dashboard...yet.