My Birthmark That Wasn’t; Longing For The Mark of Greatness

My Birthmark That Wasn’t; Longing For The Mark of Greatness

I wasn’t born.

This fact was relayed to me by my slightly older brother. About the time he was six and I was five.

The traumatic childhood memory of this revelation came flooding back to me this week, thanks to an endearing news item I stumbled upon.

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I read how two parents in England who got tattoos to match their young daughter’s unique birthmark.

Ah, birthmarks.

They run through my family.

I’m talking the port wine stain kind. They are raised, red, obvious marks, prime target for getting teased.

My brother has one that looks like splat of cherry jelly running down behind his left ear.

My younger sister was born with a quarter-sized strawberry circle on her left cheek.

My darling baby sister sitting on our grandmother's lap.
My darling baby sister sitting on our grandmother’s lap.

And then there was me.

Nothing.

Not a single mark.

You would think this would make me the lucky one.

Not a chance.

My brother saw to that.

Saw a way to turn what could be his negative into his positive.

His tool for doing what older brothers are supposed to do.

Torment younger sisters.

“Well, that just proves it,” he casually pointed out to me one day.

“Proves what?” I took the bait.

“Proves you weren’t born.”

With my brother at San Diego Zoo, about the time he informed me that I wasn't born.
With my brother at San Diego Zoo, about the time he informed me that I wasn’t born.

He stated this fact as simply and plainly as the sky was blue and his birthmark was a lucky badge of honor.

“I was too born!” I protested.

“Nope. You weren’t. That’s why they call it a ‘birth-mark.’ Proof that you were born. No birthmark-no proof-which means you weren’t born.” He was quite pleased with himself.

“Moooooooom!” I went crying to our mother. “Was, was, was I born?”

“Yes, you were born,” she assured me.

Brother and me with our mom about the time she assured me I was indeed born.
Brother and me with our mom about the time she assured me I was indeed born.

Since that day, I’ve tried to take my mother’s word over my brother’s as to proof of my existence.

Still, a little part of me continued to wish that my birthmark was actually hiding in some corner of my body I hadn’t discovered.

You can bet I’ve looked.

A lot.

Chalk this anxiety up to one of our life long challenges—

Being different.

Kudos to those parents who went the extra mile to assure their beloved daughter she wasn’t that different after all.

Parent's new tattoos matching their daughter's birthmark.
Parent’s new tattoos matching their daughter’s birthmark.

Truth is, there’s only so much a parent can do.

We all feel different in a way.

And as you grow up, the stakes get higher.

What is it for you, Dear Reader?

Feels like you’re the only one of your friends who isn’t married?

The only one who is struggling financially?

The only one who’s kid and is struggling with mental illness?

No reassuring words from Mom or valiant act of tattoo can change that.

Except maybe this.

Maybe the realization that we all get something.

Some get the birthmark.

Some don’t.

But we all got something.

Something to deal with.

Something that makes us different.

I’m trying on the idea it’s possible being different doesn’t have to mean being ashamed.

I’ll let you know how that works for me.

As soon as I get around to  being born, that is.

Find more uplifting stories on my website, DarynKagan.com

Please catch my newspaper column each week in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Dayton Daily News and other newspapers across Ohio.

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