A couple of years ago, while running the Whiskey Flat Trail Run in the mountains near the Kern River, I took my first (please let it be my last) serious fall while running. Like it tends to do during a fall, time slowed down and I felt like I was watching from above. I can still hear the ugly, guttural sound of fear coming from my throat when I realized I was flying head first, downhill, straight toward a boulder on this rocky trail. There was no hope of righting myself, all I could do was try to avoid landing head-first on the rocks. Thankfully my noggin was spared and when my running partner Robin ran back to assess the damage, my biggest concern was if my brand new “Runners for Boston” shirt was torn. It, too, was intact, but when Robin helped me roll over to my back, the knee situation wasn’t so good; something about a big gash, blood spurting, and “oh honey, you’re gonna need stitches…” You get the picture.
Thanks to endorphins and a bit of shock, I was the lucky one; Robin, on the other hand, turned into Clara Barton, choked back her horror and took charge.
The rest of the trip made for some great stories. A nice fellow racer literally gave me the (under) shirt off her back to tie around my knee (ya, it was sweaty); Trish got nauseous from the sight and we still tease her about the gagging. We ran the last two miles down the trail, what else could we do? (Although Robin did tell me after we got down the mountain that she had been prepared to piggy-back me out.) A quick stop at the drug store for peroxide and bandages was followed by a burger and a free-with-race beer at the Kern River Brewing Company (c’mon, we couldn’t miss the free beer!). Oh, and Trish redeemed herself and helped with the wound care before lunch. Yes, these are the stories that will provide a bond, and laughter, for years!
After a visit to urgent care, a tetanus shot, and lots of stitches to cover up an exposed tendon, I was all lined up for a week on crutches and more than a year of knee issues…all in all, though, it was manageable.
Fast forward a year and a half, and I’ve just made a new friend, Susan, and get this: she has an old knee injury just like mine (from a mountain biking accident)…same scar, same knee, same recovery issues! I call her my “scar sister.” And the more I get to know her, the more I realize we have other scars in common, too. Specifically the emotional scar caused by losing our mothers long before we were ready. (Not that anyone is ever ready to lose their mom.)
Since I’ve been without my mom, I’ve noticed that I have been drawn toward girlfriends, aunts, cousins and other women like never before. Thinking back on the past few years, I realize the sharing of experiences like trail run disasters, family catastrophes, career challenges (or whatever curves life throws at us), draws us closer and makes us stronger. Together. The sustenance offered by my oldest (and newest), dearest friends is sometimes just enough to help me keep it together, and sometimes it even inspires me to achieve more than I ever hoped.
As I experience new and different life challenges, I’m learning more about this great sisterhood of women-supporting-women, whatever the crisis, endeavor or journey may be. Whether you share a scar on your knee or a scar on your heart (or both!), or even if your scars are different but you help pick each other up in the aftermath, my hope for every woman is that you find your scar sisters like I continue to find mine.