Written in Ink

Last night, I went to a party at a friend’s house and she had a woman doing henna tattoos there. It’s been ages since I’ve had one, probably 15 years ago in college. As I thumbed through the many designs in her notebook, one caught my eye of a sun and moon. I had her do that design, and add stars. As she worked on painting the delicate lines on my arm, I shared that they were each symbolic of the people I love who I have lost. The sun for my dad, the moon for my mom, and the stars for Drew.

For the rest of the evening, I looked down at my arm constantly. I’ve never had a real tattoo, but I couldn’t deny that there was some feeling of rightness about this symbol on my arm. This symbol that told a piece of my story, about some of the most important people in my life who have made me who I am today. To wear my story on my arm, where the world can see it, but only I really know the meaning of it… there was a rightness to it. It made me think how much I’d like to look down at my arm and have these symbols for these people there forever. And it made me wonder why on earth I’ve still not gotten a permanent tattoo like this.

I’ve honored loved ones in all sorts of ways, and I’ve thought about getting a tattoo to honor them many times. But this is the first time I’ve gotten a glimpse into what it would FEEL like to have it there. To have them physically on my skin and a part of me, for all the rest of my days. 

Kelley wrote this past Friday about how lately she’s been feeling a distance from her late-husband Don. That she hasn’t been feeling a connection to him as closely. And I couldn’t help but think about that too while I looked down at this little henna design. Because these markings made me instantly feel closer to Drew, and to my parents too. For the first time I could really begin to understand the emotional feeling of getting a memorial tattoo for someone you’ve lost, in a deeper way than before.

Even though this tattoo will only last a few weeks, and I can’t say just yet when it will happen, I do think that a permanent version of this design may be on its way to being a part of me, just the way my loved ones are a part of me... forever. 

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