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The Most Painful Ink

Updated on March 11, 2020

No Good Reason to Cry

I bit my lip as the tattoo needles dug into the skin of my left thigh and paused to take a breath. One of the advantages of doing your own tattoos is that you can stop when you need too. I glanced over at the sketchpad on my table and shook my head. There was no way I was going to get this one done in one sitting. With a sigh I hit the foot pedal and went back to work on my newest tattoo. It was one of those spur of the moment tattoos that I've had planned for years. I just didn't have the design until now. All of my tattoos have a special meaning but as I stopped again only a few seconds later I realized that this one was going to be different. I don't cry when I get inked...I've got too many of them and there's that whole thing about saving face. Yet here I sat, crying like a baby for no apparent reason. Yes, tattoos hurt, especially thigh tats, but I have one on the other leg. It hurt just as bad and I didn't cry for that one. And yes, I did that one myself too. So what was wrong with me this time?


And Then it Hit Me...

I looked over at my sketchbook again and this time my attention was caught by the picture on the computer screen...a photograph of my father's headstone...the basis of my tattoo. I suddenly knew exactly why I was crying. why this tattoo "hurt so much". I wasn't just feeling physical pain. I was feeling the total loss of a father that I will never know. How can I when he died when I was only 2? All I have to go on are the stories that are few and far between. As almost any adoptee can tell you, it's difficult, if not down right impossible to find out information on your birth family. Unless you're very lucky. Or blessed. I was both, but that is a story for another post. It still hurts that I was 31 before i found out what year my father was born and that he had a sister. And so this ink hurts more.

The kicker came when there was a knock at my door revealing my oldest son wanting to know if he could watch me work on my tattoo. I bit my lip, trying not to cry in front of him. He is the spitting image of my father. They're so alike it's almost scary. My sister thinks my son is my father reincarnated...says it was the only way h could get back into my life. The boy's got enough of his grandfather's traits for it to be possible if you believe in it.

I waved him over and he sat down across from me, silent as I continued to finish out the outline. Tropical Storm Beryl was about to start wreaking havoc on the electricity so I figured now was as good a time as any to stop. I would hate to be half way through shading and loose power. Once I had everything cleaned up, my son looked at it, nodded and smiled. "I think he would have liked it." Without another word he left the room leaving me in tears once more.

The Most Painful Part of All

I wouldn't have though my son's simple statement would have hit my lke a brick to te chest but it did. Is my father proud of me? If he's watching me from Heaven is he pleased with the chouices I've made, the path that I've chosen? I wonder if there are other people out there who have the same questions and then I realize there has to be. I'm not the only one with these issues. There are countless of us out there...those who have lost a parent before we could know them.

Looking down at my tattoo I know that it's going to take many more sessions before it's done and that there will be many more tears before it's all said and done. But that's ok. Strangely enough, I feel a little better after all this nonsense. Now I have something of my father that no one can take away from me. And now i've found a way to honor him even though I never knew him. And that, at least, is something to me.


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