I want to feel whole and I haven’t since my mother died. I want to tattoo my arms with words that make me feel solid. Words like here, now, loved, enough, healed, whole. They don’t need to be large just big enough for me to see when I have my glasses off and I am lying down. It is at night before I fall asleep that I need to feel whole the most. When the stress of the day weighs heavy on me and I feel the filmy edge of sleep and panic trying to creep in. I stare at the tattoo on my wrist, words that my mother left Kiaya, and remind myself how much she loved us.
One of the many problems with my tattoo obsession is that if Amyloidosis hadn’t killed mom, my desire for tattoos would have. Mom was very proper and I loved that about her. We once took her to see Bon Jovi and she wore jeans, a navy turtleneck, navy pumps, and a vest that had dolls embroidered on it. We walked past the security guard and he tilted his head at mom and said, “She with you?” “Yeah.” I said and ushered her to the seats. The people in front of us rolled a joint and my mother, in not quite a whisper said, “What’s that? Why are they licking the paper?” She had a great comedic timing but had no idea that she was funny.
I want to wear the tattoos as armor to keep out the feeling that I am alone. I want my skin etched with words that remind me that I am solid and here. They would guard me against the feeling of hopelessness that I sometimes feel at night. When my day has gone bad and I want my mom to tell me it’s going to be okay. I could look down and see the word loved and know that although death put a chink in my armor I was loved to my very core.
My ability to cuss is legendary. I can weave a cuss word into a conversation like a blue ribbon through a lace edged slip. This skill of delicately interweaving the word “fuck” into a conversation was horrifying to mom. “Heather Renee, how could you say that?” I did it to watch her reaction, while horrified; I secretly think she was proud of my ballsy manner. I found this to be true at a Neil Diamond concert. The women behind us had passed the point of intoxication. Slurring their words one of the ladies told the entire arena that she had found Billy Joel tickets in her pocket from three years prior. The entire concert they talked in our ears about every song being their favorite and randomly yelling “Woo Hoo” at the top of their lungs. I just knew a “play me some Skynyrd” was coming. Or at the very least, they would throw a pair of off-brand Victoria’s Secret panties on the stage. I finally had enough and yelled at them. I just knew that prim and proper mom was dying that I had publicly yelled at someone, but she just looked at me and said, “About time.” I think she approved of my occasional brashness.
The tattoos would anchor me.
Here. I have to be here, in the present. Retreating to my room to watch old episodes of Sex and the City is not an option. My life needs to continue even if it hurts and feels empty.
Now. Now is the time that I stand up and do what I have always been scared to do. We are not guaranteed a tomorrow.
Loved: She loved us. She loved us fiercely.
Enough: I am enough. I do enough and do not need to prove myself to others. I have merit.
Healed: Mom is whole and does not hurt.
Whole: Although my heart is broken because I do not talk to her every day; she is always with me. Shaking her head at the newest weird thing I’ve said. I am whole and not broken.
She loved us fiercely.