I wear my heart on my arm

Everyone has their own kind of therapy when someone they love passes. Mine was tattoos. It was nice to sit in a room and feel a different kind of pain, a kind that I could control. Physical pain seems to be so much easier than mental pain. So over the course of six months I filled my entire left arm with different things that reminded me of Joey. At the top there's a lion that represents him. Then there is a gypsy woman who represents the fact that nothing is permanent. Under her is Peter Pan and Tiger Lily. This is one of my favorites because everyone thinks Peter Pan loved Wendy but he didn't. He loved Tiger Lily, the girl who was willing to drown for him. After that is a bouquet of flowers one for each child, myself, and Joey. On my inner arm is a portrait of Joey. And finally above that is a copy of his writing from a card he gave me that says, " I love you. Your husband Joey". 
This is my story forever written on my arm. But with displaying your life in this manner comes questions. People want to know who the man is or what this represents. I often give them a short answer and move on. I realize that it is my own fault for displaying my life so visibly. But it's also to my discretion who I choose to share it with.
Saturday night while at work a man asked me about them. For whatever reason I was willing to share some of my story with him. I got told the same thing most people say when they hear the truth. "I don't know how you do it". And I gave him the answer that I normally tell people. "What is the other option".

We began talking about life and how I have learned it can either make you or break you. How you can either become bitter and never move forward or you can embrace life and live it to its fullest. Life is not easy, I work hard. Harder than I have ever had to but I am working towards an amazing life. And I'm proud of that. 
So when the man went to pay his bill he left me a $100 tip on a $20 check. I was shocked and completely taken back. I told him he didn't have to do that. And he told me he knew but I really inspired him and he thanked me. 
I remember people telling me something good will come of this tragedy. And I would say what, how could anything good come of this. How could anything good come of a man dying and leaving his wife and children behind. But now I'm starting to see that if my story can help someone realize how precious life is and how important it is to live every day and not just exist. Then I suppose good is coming out of this.

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  • commented 2017-06-25 05:47:12 -0700
    Hello Michelle,
    It was great running into you again yesterday…I truly believe I was divinely sent there that day just to listen to your words. You see, there is a back-story that I will share in more detail with you next time I see you; what you wrote here has more meaning to me than you know. I am sure that you will be encouraged by it because you really helped…that day…at that time…like nobody else could. My life was in a free-fall at home and your story, combined with your remarkable outlook, changed my heart. By analogy, many years ago Mount St. Helens exploded and devastated miles of forest, and killed 57 people*. It was so bad you could see it from space. People lamented the tragic loss, including mourning for people who had lost their lives, and some of it you can still see to this day…but from that event, came some of the most beautiful wildflower fields in the northwest. Today people come from all over to see the flowers, all the colors, and various species that shouldn’t be there. To me, you are like those wildflower fields. I can see the devastation of the event in the distance, but you demonstrate graceful strength, resilience, and beauty that springs up from a terrible circumstance to inspire others… I want you to know you have the power to heal and place perspective on things in a very special way. I left home that day angry and stubborn, but I went home that day with a soft heart. Here is that story; the fourth paragraph captures my point in a small way…and begins “Today, life has returned with a vengeance.”…I think it is appropriately named: