The last thing I did before leaving home to start graduate school in a new state and embark on a new life was get a permanent reminder of where I’d been and what I’d left behind: a tattoo. It was inspired by a book I had read years before, “The Crying Heart Tattoo”, and another breakup with Doug at the same time. I had doodled my interpretation of it on a yellow legal pad during one of many boring high-school classes: a one-half inch x one-half inch heart in red ink outlined in blue, with a jagged blue crack in it and two shiny blue tears dripping out. My teenage intention, even before it was all-the-rage, was for an eventual tattoo. I carried that drawing in my purse for 10 years, through several wallet changes, before finally having the impetus (and guts) to make it a permanent souvenir of my life, before I rose from the ashes of that “old” life like the mythical bird I’ve always identified with, and my exodus. By that time the ink had bled on the paper and the tattoo artist, true-to-form, copied the drawing exactly – a red haze surrounds the entire picture. Prophetic?
The tattoo remains brightly and indelibly present on my right hip, a reminder of how far I’ve come and, paradoxically, how not-so-far that actually is. The tattoo and the necklace I designed and had made from my replacement wedding rings are the two most vivid reminders of my genesis. The necklace is nearly as much a part of me as the tattoo; I have rarely removed it since its conception. Now, my MS-riddled hands can’t work the clasp even if I wanted to remove it.
I look to both of my icons for inspiration and strength when times are tough. They remind me that I have conquered every obstacle I’ve ever encountered and thrived. I’ll continue to do so, no matter what life throws my way….
I have picked up a couple more talismans as my rollercoaster-ride continues. I wear my class ring from grad school to remind me of that unexpected, unbelievable accomplishment and my mother’s engagement ring which my father gave me after her death, to forever remind me that he really did love me.