second skin

They say—or at least they used to—that the cells of our body regenerate every seven years. I think it must be true.

During the first few years of Calvin’s life grief, pain and anger seeped deep into my pores, or perhaps originated in the darkest recesses of my soul and flowed out of me—I’m not really sure which. At some point on most days I found myself immersed in a viscous, penetrating sorrow, a black shroud of despair, which thankfully—and mostly because of Calvin and my husband Michael—shards of hopeful light pierced through often, allowing me to breath.

Seven long years later I believe I have come into my second skin, like a snake that slowly struggles out of its dry, brittle hide—faded, weathered and abraded—and emerges shining and steely. This transformation has taken some time, each cell of my body owning a memory of its stress and misery, and no doubt leaving a lasting impression on the core of newer, stronger cells. In this way I will never forget my suffering and loss. I will never forget the obstacles I have conquered. I will never forget knowing anguish. Somehow, it is comforting to me not to have lost those memories and moonless feelings, and to know how to access them when I feel the need—to reach deep down inside myself to that warm, dark hollow, curl up and surrender to my sorrow.

This second skin of mine is more resilient. It affords my emotional state increased latitude without breaking under the weight of worry and stress over Calvin’s well being. My second skin shines brilliantly and reflects the loving faces and gestures of my husband, of Calvin, my family, my second family, my former counselor and my friends. And I cannot forget to acknowledge the good ole reliable ticking of the clock, which has slowly and deliberately chipped off seven years of a tired and weary skin and allowed me to begin anew.

photo by Michael Kolster

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