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29 April 2007 @ 11:37 am
Theatrical Muse: Week 176: Question 176  
Name: Dr. Sid Hammerback

Fandom: CSI: New York

Word Count: 1377

Tell the story of one of your past scars.

I am a happy man, I am a person who is fairly content with the life that he has been given, but I still have my fair share of scars, mental and physical. The nature of a scar, in itself, denotes something that is, at the very least, long lasting and permanent in some way, if not apparent, on the skin or through a change in nature. Scars are there for the duration of a person’s life, usually, unless they find a way to remove or resolve them, an act which may create newer and fresher problems, of course. Fair share was not the most accurate term, however, as there is nothing fair or justifiable about some of the things that I have seen and been hurt by, and neither should the experiences be shared about to the general public either.

One of the first physical scars I have must have occurred at quite a young age, because the experience of blood seems, to my adult self, dramatically overplayed in my mind. When I was a few years old, my father was teaching me to ride a tricycle, one of those clunky metal things, which to a three or so year old seems wildly ridiculous, possibly fun and apprehensively dangerous in some way or another. In summer, you see, you can sometimes get buckled pavement in the summer from very hot days, as would happen I assume, in any place that gets a lot of heat all at once. My father, briefly ignoring of this fact, such was my mixed delight and puzzlement at this new toy, overlooked the matter entirely. Needless to say, while, by the end of the day, I had learned to ride this tricycle, I had a cut on my forearm and two grazed knees. I cried, so I remember, but more because we had new a new packet of ice cream inside, than any real and true pain. My mother also had new perfume on, which smelled like a true field of flowers. From that day, all these decades later there is, on my right forearm, yes, a faint trace, a barely perceptible line of white, healed skin, a tiny reminder of some past experience and conquest.

Some scars, are not, then, reminders of past terror or injury, but evidence of a memory, a significant occasion, that left behind a mark. Something that was painful in the moment, but has now healed and is just left there, as a reminder of one thing or another that happened, and hopefully wasn’t all that bad in the end. Of course, I wouldn’t call being bullied an enjoyable, scarring experience, but then again, the same kind of pain, being slapped and shoved can translate, in better circumstances, to being enjoyable.

It is a known thing amongst Chefs that there is a good chance you will injure yourself in the line of your work. After all, working with sharp knives and hot stoves shows a constantly present risk of something unfortunate happening. This changes depending on how haphazard, rushed or careful a person is, but all the precaution in the workplace can sometimes not prevent injury, whether my your own hands, or through the accidental movements of others. So, it is in that area of work that I, too, gained some injuries, from knives, pots, stoves, forks, trays, shelves, benches, you name it, and as a result, in turn, some scars as well. These can be helpful, though, because after enough times whacking your head into an overhanging shelf, you generally learn to look around before you bend over.

Now I move onto mental scars. In my line of work, as Medical Examiner, I come across these with certain types of cases, specifically those involving suicide, or crimes of passion, where actions seen or emotions felt, have gradually built up a long scar of anger or sadness within a person. This builds up over time, rapidly or gradually, and at some point, when situations and emotions collide, they either die themselves, or kill someone, resulting in another person to be brought to my table for examination. Aside from this, there are those people who are left behind after an event, to deal with their own scars, caused by the experience. Families, friends and loved ones of the deceased, will form their own mental scars in response to the situation of absence they have found themselves in. While I have never had the chance to study this effect exclusively, I have been working in this line of work for long enough to have seen some of the possible ramifications. It is an individual response, really, depending upon the person experiencing it, as to how they deal with death, and even then the response will vary according to how much they knew and appreciated the deceased person at hand.

You want my story though, don’t you? I can feel the question digging deep inside me, searching for those dark and terribly titbits of information, my own personal scars, not just things that happen to normal, everyday people, over the course of their lives, am I correct? It is the job of a Medical Examiner of my variation, as the course of duties goes, to examine the many faceted aspects of the occurrence of death. What it strangulation, submersion, suffocation, haemorrhaging or collision that caused the gruesome occurrence, or the mere fact that a plastic toy duck was stuffed down their throat? I am to determine, to the best of my ability, how any particular person died in the cases which I am handed. I am also to collect evidence off them and from them, and send traces, samples, jars and tubs off to their relevant destinations, so they can be examined further, by other professional scientists with other specialities at examining criminal evidence.

It is my job to examine and try to explain death, but nowhere in my job description is it expected that I must suffer death myself, and that my reaction to it should be reasonable, as I have seen the death of others so many, many times before. It is like how the title Chef automatically credits you with the knowledge of every foodstuff and method of cooking food that ever existed, when, realistically, the knowledge of such a section of facts, is hugely enormous. Relatively, being a Medical Examiner, when I experienced my own personal grievances after 9/11, I handled it, not as a Medical Examiner, as some people may have wanted me to, but as a human being.

What some people expected of me after the death of my wife and children was not realistic, because in that moment, all professional aspects were left behind and I was sat in the midst of it all, not Sid Hammerback the ME, but Sid the freshly new widower and, childless, scarred, person. What I learned in those moments are that mental scars do change you, even if you resume normality afterwards, they do change you, somehow, someway, and it can not be simply reversed or put right again. Instead, you try to manage the best way you can, how you are able to, and if things succeed, you learn a new way to deal with life, to manage your mental scar, and you continue.

Yes, I am scarred, physically, by knives and hard sidewalks, and mentally, by the death of three of the people I loved the most. I think of them most days, even though it has been over half a decade since they left me. I can not help it, for they were woven into my life as people I adored, one as a lover, a wife, two as children, and all as my family. That is the thing about scars, though, even big ones. Eventually, many of us, as individuals, we learn to deal with these things in our own way, and we continue. The pain lessens, and we continue, until we reach a point, many years or moments later, whenever, when we can continue no more. Scars are usually everlasting, and mostly painful, but they do not always have to be so, and life as someone scarred by physical or mental means, does not always have to be painful or sad.
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