Last Thanksgiving weekend marked the 20th Anniversary of my survival from a major car accident. In 1995, me and my family were headed back to East St. Louis from spending Thanksgiving with my aunt in Orlando. Me, my mom, my dad, and sister were riding through the mountains of middle Tennessee. It was a late night. I was asleep in the backseat. My sister and dad were sleep. And my mother was driving. Something happened with the car and I was ejected from the van, through the window, and across the highway.
I was told that I rolled down a steep hill and then started to climb back up. Due to the nature of the accident, I was statistically supposed to die. From my middle torso to my upper neck was all flesh. My skin had been peeled off of me. I don’t really remember much about the event, but I remember hearing parts and pieces. I didn’t see anything and I didn’t feel any pain.
I was helicoptered to the nearest Children’s Hospital in Tennessee. It was there when I came to. I had no head injuries. No deep cuts or punctures. The skin on my chest had been stapled back together. My eye had been stitched. My life was spared.
…this scar was a part of me. And that it represented a part of my story. I now embrace it fully.
When I got back home, I was so thankful and grateful to still be alive. But, now I had to deal with these scars. These ugly scars. My mom always told me that the scars were a reminder that God had a purpose for my life. I believed her, but it didn’t make the scars go away. I didn’t want the scars. I didn’t like the scars. None of my other classmates had scars. I was already different and now I have these ugly scars on me.
I used to be so embarrassed and ashamed growing up. I never wanted to show the scar on my chest. I never took my shirt off while playing basketball. I always kept a shirt on when I went swimming. I didn’t want people to ask me about the scar. I didn’t want any sympathy and I didn’t want to explain. I just wanted to be normal just like everyone else.
I started to accept my scars more the older I got. It was almost a cool thing in high school and college. But I still wasn’t confident in showing it. It wasn’t until much later in life that I started to except that this thing happened to me. That this scar was a part of me. And that it represented a part of my story. I now embrace it fully. And I think it’s pretty dope, if I do say so myself. This photo shoot is a celebration of not only the 20th Anniversary of my survival, but the total acceptance of my scars.
I now look at my scars and see beauty where I once saw ugliness and deformity.
We all have scars that we hide. Scars that we don’t want anyone to see because we’re so ashamed and afraid. But, we have to not only accept them, but embrace those scars…because they are a part of our story. When you heal with your scars and share them, you can help someone else heal with their scars.
These are my scars.
All photography by Darius B Williams.