Markings and memories of a mother’s love
Published: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 12:01
You get to a place where you can fall asleep at night without crying first. I didn’t miss my mother any less, but I got used to the constant tug that was missing her.
You settle into a routine of missing someone. It becomes engrained in your thoughts, but you’re able to function. You get back to enjoying life. You learn it’s still possible to be happy.
As I sat in the chair, I was able to take the majority of the pain in stride. My brother made bets I would cry, but even the artist said I sat like a rock.
The tattoo is situated on the left side of my body between my hip and ribcage. As the artist’s needle neared my ribs, the pain I was able to previously manage quickly neared excruciating.
Like the moments I realized my mother wouldn’t be here to help me pick out my wedding dress, see me graduate from college or hold her grandchildren. Sometimes the intense pain sneaks up on you. I’ve gotten used to explaining my situation to people; it has become routine. Sometimes I feel like I’m telling someone else’s story, because I still have it in my mind that something so horrible could never have actually happened.
But the pain can catch you when you don’t expect it. It hits you hard. You suddenly remember just how much it hurts, and you lose it. I’m now 20.
Years later, you collapse in grief – especially when you realize you have lived nearly twice the amount of time without a person than with her.
In getting a tattoo, the sudden fits of pain and constant, dull sting subside. You know you’re going to heal. The hurt is worth it. The tenderness will be gone in a week. It will get gross, scab over and basically molt off your body – but ultimately you’re left with a beautiful piece of artwork.
Loss doesn’t molt; it molds. It doesn’t roll off you; it changes you. But while nothing like a piece of art, loss – though never desired – can breed beauty, too.
From it, I learned what it means to love. I understand what love is, and I know there is a type of love that transcends this earth. That is love we should strive to achieve in our lives.
I live to love those I care about the way I know my mother loved me. I don’t know for certain I’ll be here tomorrow, next month or next year. While my mother never suspected her life would end so soon, she loved people every day like it was her last day on this earth.
That’s what I attempt to do, too. It should never be questioned. I want the people I care about to know how much I love them. I want them to feel it – like I feel my mother’s love – if I am ever not here to tell them I love them myself.
My mother was a beautiful person. The portrait of a sunflower now on my body – a brilliant mix of yellows and oranges – is as gorgeous as she was. I don’t have to wait for the sunflowers to find me; one is always with me. She is always with me.
I can rest my hand on it when I miss her. I can look at it when I need strength.
With a glance down, I can remember why it’s never worth leaving a room angry. I can remember it’s never too late to show someone how much you care.
I can remind myself of how fierce we are all capable of loving.
I can feel at home with everyone I love.