Another Threshold

In a novel, not a song, Leonard Cohen wrote “children show scars like medals. Lovers use them as secrets to reveal. A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh.”

Yesterday, The Slayer crossed the threshold from childhood to adulthood. She celebrated her 18th birthday. While there is much about her that retains the wonder and innocence of a child, she bears the scars of a fighter, a survivor, a conqueror. These are literal scars, not wounds of words. Though one word is the root of every wound: cancer.

Jordan is my second child to enter the realm of adulthood. When Lucas turned 18 I waxed sentimental about his future. When he became a man it was impossible not to project myself onto the roads he would travel—to live in the promise of his potential. I suspect this annoyed him. His journey was his own and I imagine he wished it unencumbered by the idealistic meanderings of a tireless adolescent.

For Jordan it is different. As she asserts herself as a promising young woman I can only focus on the past—what she has overcome, where we have been. Fourteen years of uncertainty have taught me to temper cravings for tomorrow and relish the delicious delicacies of today. I linger over the history of her resilience and her unwavering sense of purpose. It’s not hard to do. Time has carved a record into her body. We can point to a scar and know precisely what she conquered and when. But forward is her only mode of thought. Last night at her birthday dinner she planned a brunch for us today. And then at our brunch she planned an outing a week ahead. There is always something new to do, always some new goal to work towards. Last year it was the desire to walk again. Now, it is learning to cook, to speak in sign language, to ride a bike.

Her scars are neither medals nor secrets. While one could claim they are a word made flesh, these etchings have more meaning to me than they do to her. To her, they are merely the consequence of a moment in time that can’t be lived again. So, why bother dwelling on them? She’s moved on. Tomorrow is unblemished.