Golden Scars

The gloom had been brewing since the veterinarian called earlier in the day, but it descended with the sunset. That morning, I had dropped my cat Boots off at the animal clinic after a particularly bad fight with the neighborhood Tomcat.

“Boots has fleas,” said the vet over the phone, pausing as her words found their mark. Boots also had three deep puncture bites on her belly and one on her leg. Wounds that required shaving, cleaning and hundreds of dollars to be forked over. But it was the fleas, and the unspoken implication that I was failing at basic pet care that kicked up the sadness.

It’s funny how the most surprising moments trigger grief. Once it had surfaced the sadness gained speed and heft until a cold, heavy ball of emotion crashed in my chest. Yet, I felt too weary to cry. For how many times does it take one person falling apart and patching oneself together again before they resemble someone new?

It makes me think about “kintsgui,” the Japanese art of fixing broken ceramics with metallic veins. In this way the cracks themselves become a thing of beauty. Every now and the cracks themselves become a thing of beauty. Every now and then I picture my own body painted in long golden lines of loss and heartbreak and power and love, and understand these wounds to be a testament to imperfect perfection. Sometimes, I feel the bright hope that rises from putting oneself together anew. But, I couldn’t that night.

Not when there were fleas. Not when my heart felt tight and small. And not when all I wanted was to pick up the phone and call my mum. Tell her I love her, and lay my woes at her feet, especially the one about her being gone, and that that was why my lungs couldn’t manage a full breath.

What I learned from that night is that you may be shattered in a moment AND you can be in the process of turning your scars into golden seams. Healing is not a science but an art. It is impossible to hold grief at bay all the time. It would be counterproductive too. May that become a rallying cry, especially when the steps you’re taking towards healing get blurred momentarily by life’s tiny thing, like a flea.

(photo courtesy of

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