In 2011, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. After her first surgery in 2012, I thought she might not make it. That’s when I decided to get my first tattoo.
I knew I wanted it to be from one of my favorite band’s lyrics. And in hindsight it’s obvious that it was Broken Social Scene’s “Looks Just Like the Sun.” Now, it’s not my favorite song by them, but it’s up there. And what I’ve always loved about it is it’s beauty and ease. The chorus is quite simple.
Looks just like the sun…looks just like it…Looks just like the sun…
It was a reminder for me to just stay positive.
Stay in the moment.
Things are going to be okay even if it’s not okay.
I had my mother write out the title of the song three times on a piece of paper, and I picked my favorite one. That’s what I got tattooed on my chest:
Looks just like the sun
Which brings me to a memory with TJ that in all honesty I kinda forgot about until recently. Reflecting on that day, it was such a meaningful experience to share with a friend. Little did I know what much more meaningful that experience would get with time.
That day turned into Momma Tattoo Day.
At that time, there was a lot of uncertainty in how much more time I was going to have with my Mom. That was the reason I got the tattoo, so I’d always have something of hers with me. TJ wanted to get “Dear Momma” on his back for all the things that he never was fortunate enough to say to his Mother. For all the conversations they never got to have.
We all have different levels of luck in our lives. We should all feel very fortunate to continue to enjoy our time on the planet. Not all of us are lucky enough to make it to the end of a long and healthy life. TJ was one of those people who understood that from a very young age. And he never took that for granted.
That was what that tattoo meant for him. And he got it in a cursive style, almost like a mother’s handwriting. Like a note she would put in your lunchbox for school just to remind you that she loves you.
As anyone who has gotten a tattoo knows, you get a little bit of an adrenaline rush afterwards. So we were riding high and sharing an experience together, just doing one of those things that strengthens a friendship.
Obviously we went out to get food afterwards, and TJ had this new wing spot, which of course was amazing. Drank a couple beers. Had some fun. Shared some laughs, and more stories, and felt positive about the future all things considered. TJ had a new idea he was working on in the service industry and I was still developing my career, and at least through all that uncertainty, the rush of the tattoos and the wings and a couple beers had us feeling pretty good about the future.
I can’t tell you the name of that restaurant. It’s not around anymore. Just like some of the things we go through in life. Not everything lasts as long as you want it to. But at least along the way you can create meaningful memories with the people you love because at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.
The second someone is gone, you’d trade in everything for just another day or conversation or laugh. Even just a couple minutes sitting outside together.
You gotta be grateful for the time you have with the people in your life. And continue to strengthen those relationships.
We got tattoos together that day. They had a meaning then, and that meaning is still strong. It represents an important moment not only in my life, but the lives of the people around me. But since May of 2018, the tattoo has also taken on a lot more meaning.
I’m really grateful for that.
That I have a reminder. Something that shares two meanings, but represents one moment in time that for as hard as it was, it was also really special.
Maybe we can all glean a little bit of insight from that experience.
Maybe we can all hope it’s gonna get a little bit better.