I remember sitting around my kitchen table in the days that followed Boris’s death and talking to my close circle about getting a tattoo in his memory. We chose a semicolon for suicide awareness. I think 12 or so of us got the tattoo for him. Before Boris died, I had never gotten a tattoo. On July 25th, our anniversary, I got 2 more tattoos in his memory. One of his handwriting and one of a bass clef. The same tattoo (and only) that he had on his left shoulder blade. Sometimes I wonder if one day I will regret any of my tattoos. People always say that is a reason not to get one. But, right now, I love that I have them. I especially love seeing his handwriting on the inside of my arm, visible to me throughout the day.
I am not sure what it is about getting a tattoo that feels a bit liberating or therapeutic, but that is how it felt to me. It felt like a way to permanently mark my grief or my love. A way to outwardly say this happened to me. Maybe the pain is part of that too. The pain of a tattoo could never match the pain of loss, but in a way, it is metaphorical or something. For me, it also feels like an act of rebellion…like a moment of “who cares what people think? Everyone dies in the end anyway”. I wonder if part of me wanted the tattoos so that people would ask me about them and I’d have an opportunity to tell them about Boris. Several people have asked me about my “I love you” handwriting tattoo and sometimes it is difficult to say out loud what it is, but mostly I am honored to have the space to simply say that it is Boris’s handwriting and that he died. Some people react awkwardly, but I am used to that by now.
I love hearing about other people’s tattoos to honor and remember their loved ones. I love the ones that have stories behind them. I think it is a beautiful way to remember, but also understand if it is not your cup of tea. We all have our own ways of grieving and remembering.