In the pink

When my youngest sister was very small, her favorite color was adamantly pink. When she was probably four or five, she uttered what is now a family-famous lament: “There’s just not enough pink in the world.”

My daughter fell off her scooter recently and scraped the inside of her elbow. As with all of their injuries, witnessing the progression of the healing process is fascinating for all of my kids, and we are often called upon to inspect and marvel over a scab or scar. A few nights ago, Summerly lifted up her arm and said, “Look, Mommy! It’s almost completely gone!” Sure enough, the scab was practically nonexistent by that point, leaving in its place a swath of shiny pink. “Yes,” I said, “the scab is almost gone, but the scar is there to remind you how you healed.” She looked at me and asked, “Are they always pink?” and I had to think about it for a minute. I explained that scars can be a variety of colors depending on one’s skin color, the type of injury, the age of the scar and its location, but that usually a new scar, one just past the scab phase, no matter what color the person’s skin is, is indeed a shade of pink. “Cool,” she said.

I hadn’t actually thought about this before. Of course we’re all aware that no matter what color a person’s epidermis happens to possess, if cut, it will bleed, and that blood will be red. But it was a new idea for me to consider what universally happens after a wound has mended itself: the new skin is pink before it fades to white or darkens to black or retains a rosy tint. It was comforting to add another line item to the “what do all people have in common” list, an item that is visible, tangible, simple and constant. In a time and a world supersaturated with uncertainty, it felt nice to lodge conviction in something as concrete as an axiom: freshly healed skin is pink. My appreciation for the color pink skyrocketed in that moment, as I was now seeing pink as a badge of convalescence, a flag survivors wave to show the capacity for repair. Let’s let pink be a banner for fresh healing in all things, not just skin; let’s co-opt the color as a symbol of recognition that something, anything, wasn’t whole or wasn’t healthy and means were taken to impart healing upon it. Whether a cut heals on its own, aided by robust biology, or it requires intervention to help it mend doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t matter whether a person experiencing all the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune is able to move through them unaided or if she benefits from a support system to buoy her on her journey. What matters is that we all live in a constant state of healing of some kind or another, or we try to. We’re always on our way from one pink process to the next, and we should count every pink moment in our past a point of pride.

The year 2020 has been cut-artery red. This country has been in danger of bleeding out on the table, presided over by a bad actor pretending he’s a surgeon. The last ten months have been a gaping wound of a time to be alive, and there is a monumental amount of healing to be done. I hope with every shred of being that 2021 will shed the red and herald a different color, one that bathes us all in its roseate light, because there’s just not enough pink in the world.

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