If you had walked up to me 10 years ago and predicted that I would someday go for a tattoo with my baby brother, you would’ve gotten this response:
It all started about a month ago. I was minding my own business on Facebook (wait, is that an oxymoron?) when I got a private message from my brother.
“Hey Sissy,” it said. “I’m going to get another tattoo. You should get one, too.”
My initial gut reaction was: “Me? A tattoo? He must be crazy.”
But the suggestion kept popping into my head for the rest of the day. It wasn’t until I climbed into the car with my good friend, Sam, that I realized I was actually considering it.
By the time I went to bed that night, I started thinking about designs. I knew it would have to be something that held significant meaning. And I knew I wanted it to be simple, but profound.
The next morning, my husband found me at the computer researching tattoos.
“You’re really serious about this whole tattoo thing, huh?” he said.
And I was.
It came to me like a flash: I wanted to get something to serve as a daily reminder to never take life, or love, for granted. I wanted something permanent. Corporeal. Sentimental. Like Brian’s surgical scar.
My initial idea was to get something that represented our favorite love expression: I Love You To the Moon and Back. But I couldn’t find anything that spoke to me. Finally, I widened my search to include other phrases we use, like “To Infinity and Beyond.”
And that’s when I found my tattoo.
Now that I had the basic design in mind, it was off to the races to find a shop, an artist, and the time. Enter Dennis of The Ivory Tiger. Five minutes into a conversation with him and I was totally relaxed, calm, and ready for the process to begin.
And begin it did.
I went first. Because I’m a chicken. Also, because I was promised it would take less than 10 minutes. When Dennis did the first “warning” line (which I think of now as pen to paper) I was shocked. Surprised. Delighted.
“Is that it??” I said. “Really?”
I’m not sure what I expected. I’d heard everything from “It hurts worse than giving birth,” to “Don’t worry, it just feels like a moderate sunburn.”
Honestly, to me, it felt like just what it was–sharp metal dragging across my skin.
BUT–it was totally bearable. I didn’t cry. And I was able to talk throughout the whole process.
|Ok, maybe it did hurt. A little.|
Halfway through the process, I asked Dennis if he was interested in knowing the story behind my tattoo. Considering the fact that I probably don’t look like most of his regular clientele, I could tell he was intrigued. When I got to the part where I told him about Brian being diagnosed with cancer at 30, his hand paused. He looked up at me and waited for me to finish the story. He kept looking behind me at my healthy husband (who was manning the camera.) And he was visibly moved.
When the residual ink and oil were wiped away, I was left with the tattoo I’d never known I’d always wanted.
|Because true love is forever.|
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little emotional. Not from pain, or nerves, or fear. But from the true gravity of what this little bit of ink on the inside of my wrist truly meant to me. Now I know that everyday I can look down and see a physical, permanent representation of Brian surviving cancer.
My heart fills to bursting every time I see it.
Ok, enough sentimental stuff, now onto Baby Brother Adam’s tattoo experience. He is a true tough guy and got his done on his inner bicep.
Every guy in the shop, when told where it was going, visibly winced.
|Probably my favorite shot of the day. Didn’t realize my reflection would be
so clear until I reviewed the pictures last night.
|He’s not flexing. Much.|
Adam chose the Gaelic phrase “mo mhuintir, mo chroi,” which translates to “my family, my heart.” And it turned out just beautifully.
To say he’s been entering rooms bicep-first would not be an over-exaggeration. He’s prouder than a rooster in a hen house.
By the time our tattooing was over, the guys in the shop were making fun of my endless picture taking. But I still demanded a photo with Dennis:
And, naturally, there had to be another picture taken at the “unveiling ceremony” afterwards, and my mom and dad’s house:
|That’s right. I’m ghetto, yo.|
I couldn’t be happier with my decision to get this tattoo. It’s more than just artwork to me. There is more meaning in that small swipe of ink than you can imagine.
I know, without a shadow of a doubt, I will love it for the rest of my life. Just like I know that, for the rest of my life, I will always be grateful to have my husband with me–alive, well, healthy. And 100% cancer free.