I got my third tribute tattoo today. It says “My Heart Sings”. It’s the title of the song that I’m taking lyrics from to put on TJ’s headstone. I bought that on Friday. Driving over there was hell. The hours leading up to it were hell. I was going to go last Wednesday, but the pain was far too overwhelming. I looked at my mother and told her that I'd reached my emotional limit and didn't think I could do it. So Friday I made myself go right when I got up. As I arrived I was uneasy and couldn’t wait to rush through everything. Just when I thought I couldn't do it and debated on bolting, I spotted a “Big Gulp” sitting on the pristine desk of the gentleman helping me. Amid samples upon samples of headstones there sat something so extremely ordinary. As soon as I saw it sitting there, sweat dripping down onto the mahogany desk top, I was able to find calm. I was able to sit still and take my time picking out the font, picking out the banner style for his epitaph. I handed over the check for the deposit and shook hands when he walked me to the door. I thought for sure I would break down as soon as I hit pavement, but it didn’t come. It felt good knowing that he’d finally have a headstone by Christmas. I went to the cemetery afterwards and talked to TJ. I told him how much I missed him and that he would be all settled very soon. It’s so final, buying his headstone. The very last thing I had to take care of. I wasn’t really ready, but knew that if I didn’t do it now it might take me another year. When school starts everything will change and I didn’t want to delay any longer. Well, I did, but I should say I couldn’t delay any longer.
When I went in to get the tattoo today I was nervous. It was finality in a different form. I thought back to when I went three weeks after his death to get the “Two Drops in the Ocean” tattooed on my left arm. Remembering what it felt like to be in that same chair, with that same artist. How raw I was and how three weeks seemed like an eternity of pain without him. And now it’s only three weeks shy of exactly a year and a half since his death; and I thought three weeks was pain. I like that the artist wasn’t chatty. He’s very kind and gentle. A great “bedside manner” if you will. While he worked I could watch or zone out. I mostly zoned out thinking about TJ and what this new tattoo means to me. How I wish he could see them both. He’d always wanted me to get big ones. There are so many things he wanted to see me do that I’m only now getting around to now that he’s dead and gone. That upsets me. I finally have huge tattoos. I’ve learned to like sushi. I’m going back to school to pursue a career. All of it too late for him to see. If only I had gotten my shit together sooner.