This I Believe: Sometimes a Tattoo Need Not Be Taboo

Mary - Bethesda, Maryland
Entered on June 29, 2007

I believe our actions have the power to redeem us from the black hole of our selfishness which allows love and beauty to thrive, or we can condemn ourselves to isolation and fear. We can always choose to let love win.

I see this as a teacher when I am responsive and a light goes on in a child’s eyes as two vowels go walking, while the first one really does do the talking, and it doesn’t matter why because now a string of letters has meaning. The connection has been made and love wins.

I feel this when my grown-up daughter calls to chat about her day and I stop and listen, share my thoughts with her and we reconnect and our love wins again.

I wonder though when I see fear grips the will of my 18-year-old son whenever he faces the unfamiliar. I feel his heavy heart as he watches friends leave one by one to follow their dreams while he stays close to home to wrestle the limitations his bipolar brain has harnessed him with. He plays guitar alone, picking out the tunes to favorite songs. He fills notebooks with lyrics no one reads, too afraid to share his considerable talent with the world outside his door.

I turn down trips with friends and jobs that might require travel. I’m afraid to leave him for long in case he forgets his meds and winds up once again in the nut house. It is hard to live like this, and though, for the most part, he makes wise choices that keep him stable, I grow weary and selfishly wonder when it will be my time.

And one night when he played me a song he had just figured out, my weariness melted like sugar in rain as he sang:

“Mother don’t worry, I killed the last snake that lived in the creek bed

Mother remember the blink of an eye when I breathed through your body

Mother I made it up from the bruise on the floor of this prison

So may the sunrise bring hope where it once was forgotten

Sons are like birds flying always over the mountain”

I made him a deal when he dropped out of school that he could get a tattoo as soon as he passed his GED. Lightheartedly I added, “Your sister and I will get one too!” Needless to say, he took me seriously and quickly passed the GED. The time came to make good on my word. Yikes!

I needed something that would ring true more than a Celtic knot or a flower. My brainy daughter unexpectedly presented it to me while we were talking about her Greek class. It was a phrase that loosely translates to means “What is difficult is beautiful.” That was it!

Now the three of us have Greek letters etched into our shoulders that seem to nudge us, reminding us always to make the difficult choice and always, always to let love win.