That was the last thing on my mind. I was more concerned
that my father would find out that his 16-year-old daughter,
his only daughter, was deep in the ‘hood, sitting in a stranger’s
living room being tattooed, without his knowledge or consent.
But that didn’t matter because once the needle pierced the
upper left side of my bony shoulder and traced the curves of a
capital “C,” the first letter of my mother’s name, I felt emboldened,
I felt the blood of my courageous mother running through me.
I felt a sense of pride that I would soon wear her name on
my body.
“What letter are you on?” I asked the tattoo artist.
“The h,” he said.
And as he spoke I started to feel the pain that accompanied
the loop on the h, the letter closest to my collarbone.
I sweated. I squirmed.
Which led me to imagine the pain my mother must have
gone through when I was seven years old and she, a young
mother, knew she was dying and would leave her two children
with her unreliable, alcoholic husband.I fought through the pain.
“R, i, s, t.”
The letters were being traced much faster now.
“Take slow, deep breaths,” the tattoo artist said. “I’m working
on the second i. We’re almost done now.”
My body trembled as he inked the last letter of my mother’s
Finally, it was done.
He handed me a small vanity mirror so I could admire his
finished product.
I loved the simple, flowing cursive letters that spelled “Christine,”
the name that represents strength, beauty and courage.
The name of my mom who was taken from her daughter and
from the world way too soon.
Every time I miss her, which is often, I touch the left side of
my upper shoulder, near my heart, and I remember who the
most important woman in my life was and still is.
And I know she is always with me.

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