As I've mentioned before, once I get something in my head that I want to do, it becomes an obsession that won't pass until it's done. My tattoo for Matthew was one of those obsessions. I didn't have any other tattoos, but I knew that I needed this to keep him with me for the rest of my life. He was stamped on my heart and in my head, but I needed a visible memory that would keep him with me daily. I decided on the Mother's Love heart (James Avery design) from a necklace I wore daily and his little footprints on either side of the heart.
I'd watched my share of tattoo shows and I had preconceived notions of what my experience would be like. I thought my artist and I would bond over my story of my tragedy. Maybe we'd shed a few tears together. We'd probably come away from the experience best friends or something. It seems like that's what happened with Kat Von D on LA Ink, at least. We'd at least hug it out at the end. I guess that's not how it really goes, too often.
I'm not even sure the guy asked me why I chose the tattoo. He worked in silence while I savored the pain the needle was causing me. I actually enjoyed the pain, which was confusing to me. Maybe it was because it was a new pain that I wasn't used to and it took my mind off my constant . Whatever the reason, it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected it to be. I could definitely see why people liked to get them. It was a weird, sort of healing pain. I just talked to Brad and my friend Casey while the silent, uninterested, un-LA Ink-like disappointment of a tattoo artist did his thing.
I loved having his tiny feet so close to me at all times. I didn't take into account that people would ask me what my tattoo meant, and I'd have to have the uncomfortable conversation with them that my son had died, and those were his little footprints. I always felt sorry for them as I saw the discomfort I caused them as I answered their question honestly. It was the first time I realized that this was a subject nobody wanted to really hear about. Even if I wanted to talk about Matthew, I had a feeling that nobody wanted to hear about it. It was too sad. I'd make them uncomfortable. I'd better just keep it to myself. He was safe there, with me. I'd never forget him, even if the rest of the world might.
The more I speak to others, the more I realize that not speaking about this loss is so common. Women and families suffer in silence. They don't speak of their pain, they don't allow it, they don't feel worthy of owning it. They see other's pain as worse than their own, so they push it aside. They don't want to feel that hurt again, so they stuff it deep down, hoping they won't feel it. They busy themselves so that they can forget (guilty!). We need to let ourselves feel. We need to be here for each other to let others know that it's okay to talk. Please don't walk this alone. You have a sucky sisterhood backing you up. You have people who love you. If you don't feel you have someone, message me if you just need to vent. Please don't walk alone.