“I was brave?” the four-year-old asked.

“You were — you are brave,” Eddie told her.

“What does brave mean?” Ruth asked him.

“It means that you don’t cry,” Eddie said.Red apple with scars

“I cried a little,” Ruth pointed out.

“A little is okay,” Eddie told her.  “Brave means that you accept what happens to you — you just try to make the best of it.”

“Tell me more about the cut,” the child said.

“When the doctor took out the stitches, the scar was thin and white and a perfect straight line,” Eddie told her. 

In the whole rest of your life, if you ever need to feel brave, just look at your scar.”

Ruth stared at it.  “Will it always be there?”  she asked Eddie.

“Always,” he told her. 

“Your hand will grow bigger, and your finger will grow bigger, but the scar will stay the same size.  When you’re all grown up, the scar will look smaller, but that will be because the rest of you has grown bigger – the scar will always be the same.  It will just not be as noticeable, which means that it will become harder and harder to see.  You’ll have to show it to people in good light, and you’ll have to say, ‘Can you see my scar?’ And they’ll have to look really closely; only then will they be able to see it.  You’ll always be able to see it because you’ll know where to look.”

“And my scar will always be there?”  Ruth asked him again.

“Your scar will be a part of you forever,” Eddie promised her.

~ John Irving
A Widow for One Year

* * *

I love that the scar will stay the same size, but it’s the girl who will grow.

And if she ever feels afraid, she can look at the scar and remember: she was brave.

And I love that she doesn’t want the scar to go away.

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