The Second Tattoo: In Memorial

Throughout everyone’s lives, we have all made at least one resolution that we swore we would keep only to cave in eventually. That first night you experience tequila: “I’ll never drink again” – then two weeks later you get twice as plastered as before. Or the common “This holiday season I’ll be careful what I eat!” Two months later, you’ve still gained the holiday 15lbs. I had a similar situation with my first tattoo. I had wanted a tattoo for years, but once I got my first one – “This will be my last, I don’t see myself as the type of person with more than one tattoo.” Five years later, I got a second one.

On April 11th, 2015, I got a call from my mother that would literally change my life forever. My puppy – who is and always will be my best friend, baby girl, and love of my life – was diagnosed with Lymphatic Cancer. With chemo, she maybe had a year. Without chemo, she had a few weeks. I faced the hardest realization of my life: the being I loved most in the world had less than a year to live and there was nothing I could do about it.

Grief is a pretty hard thing. Honestly, I took her diagnosis and death extremely hard. On October 16th, 2015, she passed away. I was actually hospitalized that day around 11am with a panic attack, before I even knew what had happened. Once I was discharged, I called my parents to find out my baby had passed away within an hour of my panic attack ending. My babygirl and I were so close that, even from across the country, I could feel her pain before it was ended by her leaving this world.

In one of my many efforts to control my grief, I decided to get a memorial tattoo to help myself through it. There is a poem by Robert Frost that I memorized in 8th grade, and by some chance of fate I remembered it around this time:

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay.

The summary of what I get out of this poem: there are a million good things in life, but no matter how good they are, eventually they will have to disappear. So instead of moarning the loss of my best friend, I should focus on all the happy times I had with her and be thankful to have had her in my life in the first place. But as anyone who has lost someone close to them can tell you, it is really hard to remain positive throughout it. So I decided to get the title of the poem (‘Nothing Gold Can Stay’) and my babygirl’s foot print tattooed somewhere that I could always see when I was feeling sad – underneath my arm, near my armpit.

It took an afternoon of chasing Carma around in my driveway with black paint to finally get her to step on the canvas I had bought to get her footprint. (Needless to say, dad was not happy about all the footprints that stained our driveway for months afterwards.) And by some freakin’ miracle, it turned out pretty amazing.

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Today is exactly one year since I lost my best friend. And to be honest, there still isn’t a day that passes where I don’t miss her with every fiber of my being. But my second tattoo has made it better – whenever I miss her too much, I put my hand up to her footprint and remember how much we loved each other.

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