When I was in my twenties, the only women I knew with tattoos were bikers or lesbians. My favorite was a woman I worked with at UPS in Colorado Springs. She told me her and her girlfriend had matching tattoos. Of course I say, Cool. Can I see it? So she unhooks her belt and drops her pants to reveal a tattoo of Calvin with a push mower grinning as he mows into her pubic hair. It was awesome. It still makes me smile to think about it.
I got my very first tattoo over Thanksgiving weekend. It’s a tiny little thing. A cherry blossom flower. I wasn’t sure if I would ever get a tattoo. I wanted one when I was much younger. My mom and I had talked briefly about getting a tattoo together when I was 16 or 17, of a scorpion… like the band. Why? Who knows? That was 30 years ago. Women didn’t get tattoos as much as they do now, which I realize makes me sound a wee bit old, but it’s true.
Flash forward a bunch of years through four babies and living on one income and tattoos were no where on my radar. As those kids grew into adults, my oldest son Chase was the first to jump on the tattoo train – and I’m pretty sure he pirated the train and took over the engineer car. He had gotten some piercings at a local shop in Fairbanks and spent a fair amount of time in the tattoo shop. I’m sure he has a few DIY tattoos which he now vehemently speaks out against anyone else doing, but his first real tattoo was a shark…on his head, because heaven forbid he just got a nice little tattoo in a concealable place. Not this kid. And his longtime girlfriend, Jazmin, who I usually just refer to as my daughter in law, because I’m tired of waiting for them to get married, is now a tattoo artist. She is an amazing artist with pencil, chalk, charcoal, paint, ink pen, computer app – and now she is becoming pretty good with a tattoo gun. Needless to say, they are both heavily tattooed. And two of the best kids I know.
During my trip home at Thanksgiving I decided to visit Jazmin for a tattoo of my own. I had considered getting one several times in the past couple years, but could never settle on what I wanted. Right after we lost Brice – Breanna, Chase and Wayne all got a tattoo with the following quote from Stephen King, Brice’s favorite author:
Remember, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.
I just couldn’t do it.
A short time later, they also got semi colon tattoos. The semi-colon is a punctuation mark used when an author could have ended the sentence, but chose not to. You can read more about Project Semicolon at their website.
Again, just not what I wanted.
I had a dream in the weeks after Brice passed of an exploded pocket watch – not blown up, but exploded – all the pieces coming apart and the time was 11:30 – the day and time that Brice was born. I can see it in my head as clear as can be, but could never get the picture out of my head and into words the way I see it. I thought about that as a tattoo, but it seemed so dark. Of course I also toyed with getting a running tattoo, but nothing I’ve seen really appeals to me.
While scouring around the internet for pictures of tattoos, I found some great pics of cherry blossoms. I like flowers, but I’m not flowery. I like pink but I’m not a pink fanatic. I leave that to my older sister, Jolie, who loves pink, and looks great in pink. But these tattoo pics I was finding were beautiful. I started doing some reading to see what the significance of them were – remember when tribal and Chinese characters were all the rage? How many people found out that symbol they tattooed on their arm meant Stinky Trash not Sexy Momma? Just sayin’. I didn’t want to end up with a tattoo that had some significance that I didn’t want to be promoting. I’m happy to say that’s not what happened.
Cherry blossoms are so beautiful. I love the pictures of the rows and rows of them in Japan and Washington D.C. When I started reading about the significance and symbolism of the delicate pink blossoms, I knew I had found my tattoo. According to an article I found, in Japanese culture the cherry blossom represents the fragility and beauty of life. Like the cherry blossom, life is an amazing and beautiful thing, and yet so tragically short. You can only enjoy the beauty of the cherry blossoms but for a brief time each year and if you don’t capture the beauty and brilliance of them during that time, you will miss it. You can only enjoy the beauty and brilliance of life for a short time. If you don’t capture it and appreciate it, you will miss it.
Losing Brice made me realize how tragically short life is. I try to remember every day how precious life is and to live in the present moment. I hope you will too.