Forever in my heart, forever on my shoulder

I’ve been thinking about getting a tattoo for a long time, nearly ten years. I first had the idea after I left my toxic ex and moved to California. It was going to be a butterfly, a symbol of my metamorphosis, but I couldn’t decide what type of butterfly or where on my body I wanted to put it. So I thought and waited, and eventually the reason for it didn’t seem important anymore. So I put the tattoo idea on indefinite hold.

About six weeks after Mike died, I had a dream about moths that felt very significant (https://hourbeforedawn.wordpress.com/2010/04/12/moths/). I started thinking then about a moth tattoo and I did some research into different types of moths. I discovered that a particular type of moth, the luna moth, was once thought to carry the spirits of our departed loved ones. As soon as I read that, I knew what I wanted. But I also knew I wanted to get it done to mark the first anniversary of Mike’s death, so I waited.

The day finally came. My dear friend Celeste picked me up around 10:30 yesterday morning and drove me all the way out to Chino (about a 50-minute drive) to Hi-Def Ink. I met the tattoo artist, Sam Scott, and made sure he’d received the photo I sent him and knew what I wanted. Then Celeste and I went to lunch. Here’s the photo we started with.

Sam did some sketches and we talked about placement. I’d decided to have it done on my left shoulder. “It will be like Mike is the angel on my shoulder,” I told my mom.  Sam, Celeste and I all agreed that it would look best on my back, just above my shoulder blade. And that way I can hide it at my corporate job.

I was a little nervous about the pain, as my pain tolerance has always been pretty low. Celeste pulled up a chair and sat next to the table, holding my hand. When he first started doing the outline, it was just a prickling sensation and the vibration was almost pleasant. This is what I’ve been afraid of for ten years?! It did hurt a bit more on certain sensitive spots, but it was nowhere near as bad as I’d expected. When it hurt, I squeezed my friend’s hand and she reminded me to breathe.

When he’d finished the outline, he let me get up and take a little break. This was my first view of the work in progress…

When he started filling in the color, that was uncomfortable in a different way. My skin felt very hot and sore, like it was being burned. I concentrated on my breathing and reminded myself that this short-term physical pain was nothing compared to the emotional pain I’ve endured this past year. Just as I was starting to think, OK, I really wish it was over now, he said cheerfully, “Almost done.”

Two hours from when he began, I was the proud owner (and wearer) of a new work of art.

The first thing I thought when I looked at it in the mirror was, “Mike would love this!” It’s so his style. He’d be so proud of me, too. Hell, I’m proud of me. This tattoo says I’m not afraid of pain anymore, that I know I can and will survive. It’s also a permanent reminder of the man I love and who loved me, who will always be with me… forever on my shoulder, forever in my heart.

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~ by hourbeforedawn on March 5, 2011.

10 Responses to “Forever in my heart, forever on my shoulder”

  1. It’s wonderful! So much meaning and beauty. Love it.

  2. PERFECT! It’s exactly as you described and exactly what you wanted. I’m so proud of you, honey!

  3. Beautiful words – beautiful tattoo – beautiful YOU!

  4. absolutely perfect

  5. Gorgeous Lira. I love it. Wear it proudly.

  6. Beautiful work, darling…and completely apropos for the woman who wears it. 😀

  7. This brought tears to my eyes – such a beautiful post… from a beautiful woman… with a beautiful spirit…

  8. that is so cool, Lira. love it. I think it’s an awesome way to honor and remember.

  9. Beautiful….just beautiful Lira.

  10. A beautiful symbol of love…and your strength.

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