It's a Viking rune on my left shoulder. It looks like a lightening bolt inside a square rock. It stands for life force, wholeness and the sun's energy.
I still like it, although it has faded in the sun and adventures of my last 12 years. A good family friend is very into tattoos, she almost has full sleeves on both arms. This summer when I turned 30 she offered to take me to her tattoo artist to have my tattoo updated. I could changed it if I wanted to which got me thinking. Now that I am 30 what events have impacted my life that I would want to remember?
Well, 3 years ago now I lost 5 family members in the span of about 4-5 months. My maternal grandmother to old age, my maternal grandfather to old age, an aunt/cousin to cancer, an uncle to cancer, and another uncle to old age. It's very hard to work through the grieving process when you are constantly restarting. I had just moved to a new school that fall, was getting married in the summer and had moved to a new house. Suffice it to say it was all a little much. I ended up having panic attacks and sleep problems. All around it was not a great time in my life.
But I do believe that these moments, or multiple moments, create who we are and I know I wouldn't be who I am today if I hadn't had to live through that. Losing my aunt to cancer was by far the hardest thing I have ever done. She was my ultimate role model. A teacher who gave everything to her students. In our small town she would bring kids to her home, bathe them, feed them and clothe them if their families weren't able to provide for them. She raised a Down Syndrome child and became an advocate for all students with disabilities and she died three weeks before her daughter's wedding and seven days after my grandfather. It crushed me, and it crushed my heart.
My mother's parents died within 3 months of each other almost to the day. My grandmother went first in the spring. She slipped and fell on the ice and January and never fully recovered. My grandfather woke up everyday and went to the hospital to sit with her. They had spent their whole married lives fighting. As long as I knew them they slept in separate bedrooms, fought like cats and dogs, and my mom tells of times when she was young that they were separated and my grandfather left the family to live somewhere else. But when it came down to the big stuff, when she was sick, he was there, everyday. And when she slipped away a part of him went with her. He seldom changed out of his pyjamas, didn't leave the house and just sort of became a shadow. This big man who my whole life had been a rock for our family couldn't bear to live without my grandma, and so he slipped away in the fall.
My father's sister was divorced before I was even old enough to know she had been married, but "Uncle Jim" had always been around. "He's your aunt's friend" my mom would tell me. So when they finally got married no one was surprised and everyone was happy. He was also a big man in my life. Always smiling, always happy and always the life of a party. So when lung cancer started to eat away at his body and took the youthfulness from his face it was devastating to our family. By the time he passed on he looked 30 years older than his 60+ years and was in a great deal of pain.
So in memory of these important people in my life, (including my paternal grandfather who passed away when I was in high school) I am going to change my tattoo, I have decided to get a big shooting start with 5 little stars around it. This weekend, I think, will be a healthy move forward. I try to remember them everyday and often the thoughts and love I have for my lost family members brings tears to my eyes and sadness to my heart.