Three Tattoos

Those of you who have read Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude know the story of my first two tattoos. To be clear, prior to 2013, the only time I had ever thought of getting a tattoo was after a night of too many martinis while living in Madrid. I also planned on getting my nose pierced at the same time. While I didn’t go forward with the tattoo, I did make an appointment to get my nose pierced but cancelled it when my mother (over the phone) told me that it was fine for me to get my nose pierced as long as I also planned on paying my own college tuition…

Fast forward to late 2013, after Sam’s death. We knew that Sam had planned on getting a tattoo of his favorite tree of life emblem on his 21st birthday. As Sam didn’t live to see that birthday, we (my husband and I) decided to get that tree in his honor, with a star above it because we talk to Sam looking at the stars. That appointment to get our tattoos was one of the most profound, spiritual and emotionally fulfilling events of my life. I learned more about the human spirit, relentless and unconditional love, and generosity that afternoon than I ever did attending church services.

Later, after the birth of our first grandchild, we each got a second tattoo. This time, we both were getting them as a way of symbolizing why we keep going each day, but the actual tattoos differed. For me, that second tattoo was on the top of my foot, symbolizing putting one foot in front of the other. It symbolizes our four children, Sam’s favorite place, our grandchildren, and our place in the universe.

This past spring, after my husband’s diagnosis of ALS, we each got one more tattoo. Mine is an infinity symbol, with a note written by my husband, recognizing that at some point, he will no longer be able to write. It is a daily reminder of the infinite power of our love.

Each of the tattoos has been done by the same artist. He makes us laugh, he cries with us, he makes us think about life and death with blazing honesty and openness. He has been part of this journey in a very unique way, and again as I say so often, Sam brought the most amazing people into our lives. Without Sam wanting that particular tattoo, we would never have gone to get one in his honor, and wouldn’t have had the opportunity to have new people teach us so much about stereotypes and finding love and support in the most unusual places.