An Imperfect Body – by Thelma Zirkelbach


My body is scarred. I was nineteen when my dress caught fire from a gas heater.  My brain said, “Don’t run,” but some primal instinct cried, “Run!”  As I raced from my room, flames gobbled up my dress, my skin.  A girl rushed after me, threw me to the floor and rolled me in a blanket.  The worst was over, I thought, but it was just beginning. I remember days in the hospital:  the smell of my own charred flesh, the pain, skin grafts, learning to walk again.  Learning to live again.  How does a nineteen-year-old cope with scarred skin?  Somehow I learned to respect my imperfect body and go on with my life–college, marriage, children, and non, retirement.  I am not a burn victim.  I am a burn survivor. The scars are my badge of courage.