Which came first? I most certainly have never had the desire to debate that age old question. But if I were to find myself in a position where it was necessary, my reply would be something similar to, “You have to have an egg for there to be a chicken, but you also have to have a chicken to lay an egg that would hatch a chicken…but I’m pretty sure Genesis says God came first and created that chicken…not an egg”. I would then, of course, add a quietly whispered and smugly calm “boom” to the end of my 10 second spiel. And because I know that I can sometimes be a solid King James Donkey, I’d simultaneously mimic a mic drop for effect. (King James Donky was totally stolen from a dear cousin. Thanks Jennifer! Ha!)
With all of the loss that has been experienced around me lately, I’ve chosen to get another tattoo that I will get in memory of my precious Mama. My vision is a flowing music staff with the first few notes of Amazing Grace, in the key in which she always played it and a quote that flows with the music, “Music is the sound of life” which was certainly my Mom. Music. The numerous hours I’ve spent thinking of what this tat should symbolize and express also made me begin thinking of my others and their significance. The significance of each was so deep that tears appeared along with the question, “Which came first, the tat or the pain?”
My first tat is a memorial tat for my best social worker friend, Kim, who lost her battle with Leukemia in 2006. I was able to get the original artist to recreate the sun he made just a few years earlier for her. I changed the rays of the sun and added a couple of other touches to make it my own, but that jolly smiling sun reminds me of that never-without-her-lipstick, beautiful, happy soul that has gone on to be with Jesus. It also reminds me of the laughter she created within our little circle and I cherish it to this day. I got it one year after her death and every time the process became too painful I would just remind myself to suck it up because that 45 minute tat process was nothing compared to her pain during that year long battle with Leukemia.
My second tat is a simple quote that I have always loved because it embodies everything I believe manifests a life well-lived. Live, Laugh, Love. I got this tat in memory of two nephews who chose suicide as their answer and a dear friend who used cutting as his. “To Write Love on her Arms” was a movement that I felt so strongly about so I chose to use Live, Laugh, Love as my way to shed light on a dark subject, share the story of hope and write love on my arms for these beautiful souls who can’t seem to find the light.
What came first the tat or the pain? For me, the pain was the beginning. Finding and creating beauty in the midst of pain seems to be the common denominator. Kim’s tat is a beautiful reminder of a life well lived with smiles in the midst of pain. Live, Laugh, Love on my wrist is a beautiful reminder that there is hope and there are other answers that can be chosen. And my “mama tat” will most assuredly symbolize her clinging to a Savior that provided the most Amazing Grace that could ever be provided and her sharing the love of music with her family and countless other families through church and 34 years of teaching elementary music. What a legacy!
Needles and skin are a painful pairing, but often the painful pairing creates beautiful reminders of hope and wonderful memories to be cherished. The pain of depression and grief created my desire for these tats but the pain in the process created a quiet resolve that all can be well again. Not today, but one day.
Hopefully, as we sip our coffee and remember, healing can begin. ~paula
To Write Love on Her Arms
To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recover.