By Kelly DiMaggio
18 Sep

The Beauty of Scars

Friday, September 18, 2015

I loved writing this post, as it encompasses so much: love, friendship, and the beauty surrounding the "imperfect" body of those scarred CHD warriors. I often struggle to put my thoughts into words, as words don’t do justice to the vast spectrum of all that comes with being an ACHD patient. With that in mind I decided to focus my latest piece around a styled bridal shoot that I was lucky enough to model for. After all, a picture's worth a thousand words… right?!

Growing up, my future was uncertain, and my parents took things one milestone at a time. A few months ago I was sitting with my mom and asked her "Does it ever blow your mind that you and Dad were initially told I wouldn't live past the first few hours, yet here I am—26, married, and thriving?" My mom paused briefly before replying "I thought about it non-stop when you were little, but now I don't really think about it. For better or worse I just think of you as my daughter, perfect just the way you are."

I feel very blessed that my parents raised me as normally as possible, never treating me any different. They taught me that my heart, my body and my struggles didn't make me any less perfect, but rather the best version of myself.

October 12, 2013, was the happiest day of my life—the day that my husband Michael and I exchanged our vows with tears in our eyes, especially when we pledged "through sickness and in health." During the wedding planning process some asked whether I minded if my scar was visible, or accentuated, by my dress. The answer was a resounding NO, best summed up by one of my favorite quotes by Chris Cleave in The Other Hand:

"We must all see scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means 'I survived.’”

Fast forward to almost two years later. One of my best friends Jessica recently launched her own floral and event planning business. Jess and I have been friends since our freshman year of high school and to say that we have been through a lot together would be an understatement. Jess lost both of her parents to cancer, all within the span of our college careers. Not only did she take over running the family business, but also became the legal guardian to her younger sister, finished her four year degree, and is now growing by leaps and bounds in her new venture.

When Jess asked if I would model for her in a styled bridal shoot showcasing her florals I couldn't have been more excited! I got to put on my wedding dress once again and felt just as radiant, if not more (!) than on my wedding day.

But how could that be? Your wedding day is supposed to be the most radiant day of your life. And it was. At that point in my life, it was the very best day. But if there is anything I've learned from having a chronic illness it's that each new day becomes the best day of your life thus far.

The reason this experience was extra special to me is because it was driven by the most passionate, independent and courageous women. Those who have faced adversity and turned it into action. Those who have taken their pain and turned it into something beautiful.

I asked Jess if she thought the photographer would be willing to snap an extra shot or two focusing specifically on my scar. My husband just decided to go back to school after 11 years, specifically for diagnostic medical sonography, with the hopes of specializing in pediatric cardiology. I wanted to give him something tangible that showcases our love and strength. And even more, I wanted to highlight that strength is beauty. Scars are beauty. There is no such thing as the "imperfect body" we are all perfect just the way we are.

The extremely talented individuals in the MD/DC/VA area who made this shoot possible: florals, photography, and hair and makeup.

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