Tattoos…I have changed my thinking on them…I used to say they were “ok” for others but not my family. I know how people are judged by them…I had done it myself and I didn’t want my kids to be…I didn’t want them to lose out on a job…or be less thought of…I didn’t want them to be negatively affected by them.
Lauren wanted a tattoo starting when she was about 15 yr’s old. She had become friends with a young man from New York, who was full of life experiences and travels, and had a saying on his collarbone written in Gaelic…yes Patrick is Irish… that said “Journey with purpose.” Oh we tried to talk her out of it and then we tried reverse psychology saying she could have one when she turned 18 yr’s old…thinking she would forget about it or change her mind by then. Well that sort of worked…and it helped that she hated needles…she reached 18 and didn’t immediately run out and get that green four leaf clover tattoo she wanted. Not long after she was of legal age to get a tattoo… I started to rethink my stand on them. I had two friends who had gotten them and they explained why they choose to get one and the meaning behind their special art piece. They were done for significant events in their life…for retiring after 20 years from the fire department and for getting out of a controlling marriage…both were gotten in celebration of life. Okay…that makes sense to me…I can sure understand that reason….it wasn’t gotten on a whim…picked out of a book or off the sample wall at the tattoo shop. So then my stand turned to…if you are gonna get one it should be for something important and meaningful in your life…don’t get one because “everyone else” has one….it should be unique to you.
Well fast forward a few years and Lauren was getting ready to graduate from SFA…so she was thinking of tattoos again…in celebration of that major life event…of her future and the starting of her adult life. She was scheduled to graduate in August 2010 and was almost finished with her course work and only needed to do her 300 hour internship that summer. Our life and family was shattered on March 7, 2010…never to be the same…a life changing event…a permanent mark. Weeks later as we went through Lauren’s things and were looking at pictures, videos and other things on her laptop computer…we found examples of tattoos she was using for inspiration to create her own unique tattoo…a pineapple for her degree in Hospitality…wings for her faith…and yes…four leaf clovers.
Taylor…our 20 yr old son at that time…Lauren’s younger brother…quickly said he wanted a tattoo in her memory. He carefully thought it through and took his time deciding just what he wanted…a back piece with her full name and lyrics from a song he partially rewrote…for a sister he loved…and would never forget. Bryan and I went with him to get his unique…special…memorial marks on his body. I too said I wanted a tattoo and knew right away I wanted her literal signature and heart/cross she would make after her name at times…and her birth day and angel day dates…permanently inked…marked on my skin…for a daughter I loved…and I would never forgot. Bryan and Taylor were with me, a few months later, when I got my mark and Bryan is now considering a portrait piece on his arm.
I know the Bible says we shouldn’t mark our bodies. But she had already “marked” my body and soul in other ways…some visible…laugh lines…gray hair…stretch marks…drooping parts… and invisible ways…heart full of love…a hand reached out to others… hugger and kisser…looker for joy and laughter and… now a hole in my heart that will never be filled.
Lauren and I shared an aversion to needles…yes at our ages…we still hated needles and shots. But as nervous and scared as I was to get my tattoo…as soon as he started marking me…I felt a peace and calm come over me…I know it was her…I know she approved it and was right there with me…holding my hand. And as my tears of both joy and sadness were rolling down my face…I think God was too…gently smiling and saying…I understand…this need to mark your body…for the one who left a permanent mark on your heart and soul.
The tattoo is Lauren’s literal signature and heart/cross she used to make after her name at times. It was taken off a napkin she wrote it on a few days after her 16th Bday and could drive by herself.
I chose the placement of my tattoo carefully. I wanted it to be discreet but easy to show…and most importantly…where I could see it and touch it anytime I wanted to.