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.
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