We All Bleed

“When blood sees blood of its own, it sings to see itself again. It sings to hear the voice it’s known. It sings to recognize the face.” ~Suzanne Vega (“Blood Sings”).

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I’m afraid of blood, even though we all bleed. There’s just something about the redness of it all, the overwhelming red that drowns out everything else. It doesn’t matter if it’s my blood or somebody else’s blood, I can just feel the copper draining out in that sea of red. I don’t faint when I see it, but maybe I would be better off if I did, because then at least I wouldn’t have to deal with it anymore. I could be safe in my warm cocoon and make the whole world disappear.

When I was eleven I was at summer camp. I wasn’t really supposed to be there, but I begged and begged until my mom gave in. It was one of the few times she gave in, but this camp was far out in the middle of nowhere. I remember being afraid once I stepped on the ground and wanting to go back home. Yeah, that wasn’t happening, not after all the begging I had done to get there. But I made superficial friends after a couple of days, and this one boy brought an illegal knife so he could whittle sticks.

You can see where this is going, can’t you? I borrowed said illegal knife, and I was getting a good head of steam up on carving up that stick. It was starting to look like something real, not just a piece of stick, when the knife slipped through the knot I had been tugging at and sunk deep into my thumb. There was white all around it, and I stood there with the knife in my thumb, just numb.

It didn’t hit me… it wasn’t real until the blood started flowing. Then I did almost pass out as I walked rather surreally to our bunk leader with the knife still stuck in my thumb and the blood gushing out around it. “Uh, I think I did something bad,” I said, taking the knife out then. Which is when I did pass out, and when I woke up I was in a rural hospital and they were stitching me up. Finally, the blood was gone, but I learned a valuable lesson that day: never use a sharp knife.

Many incidents like that have happened in my life, though, and most of them have proven how strong I can be in the face of things I fear. Even though blood still makes me queasy whenever I see it, I can face it down like it’s Wyatt Earp and I’m in the wild west fighting for my life in a shootout. I can be brave despite the intense red of the situation because we all bleed sometimes. Because bleeding means we’re alive, that our hearts are still pumping, that we still have a connection with this world, even if it’s sometimes a tenuous one.


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