Healing Scars

Growing up in America,
oblivious, naive I was…
The Killing Fields
it’s just a movie, right?

So I imagined.

Grueling 16 hour workdays,
daunting ESL classes,
who has time to grieve?
Oh, the plight of my refugee parents…!

So I ached for them.

Starving in a labor camp,
crying in upset skies, and
imprisoned by the Khmer Rouge,
my parent’s memories, too horrific…

so I refused to believe it.

Piecing together the shrapnels,
shards of my broken past,
to find the missing pieces…
months, I lived in the library.

So I searched.

Hiding in a book, surfaced
another survivor’s story
that mirrored my mother’s story.

So I kept reading…

Fleeing the mountains, barefoot
chased by soldiers with guns
shot off cliffs, onto mined ravines
the terror Mak described to me – ALL REAL.

So I crumbled.

“But there’s a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begin.”
― Mitch Albom, For One More Day

Invading Phnom Penh, 40 years ago,
the Khmer Rouge evacuated the cities,
killing 2 million people from 1975-1979.
My family included.

so I remember.

Learning reconciliation,
replacing hate, with forgiveness,
replacing bitterness, with freedom,
on my own, I cannot do it-

so I seek God.

Trusting in His infinite Wisdom,
His calming peace,
that sutures bleeding wounds
the Khmer Rouge left behind

so I keep praying.

Meeting other survivors,
gathering, interviewing, archiving
to record history before it’s lost.
Renewed with purpose…

so I listen.

Witnessing the consequences of trauma,
that maimed an entire population:
poverty, lack of eduction, PTSD…
as a nurse, one person at a time,

so I work.

Restoring art nearly destroyed,
our hands bend with grace,
our feet step with courage.
The tradition of Khmer dance,

so I teach.

Recognizing that history repeats itself
The Holocaust, Cambodia,
Rwanda, Darfur, Burma,
and to nurture these healing scars…

so I write.


8 thoughts on “Healing Scars

  1. Very powerful. And the most personal post that I’ve read from you. Your accounts of patients are amazing, but this is about you, so I find it amazing in a different way. Thank you for sharing.

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