If you look closely at the cover photo for Still Standing magazine, you’ll see my feet. Though my ankles were swollen and I could’ve taken a more flattering shot, I wanted it to be real and for my son’s memorial tattoo to show.
It is the only tattoo I have.
Shortly after losing Austin, I knew I wanted a tattoo to visibly remember him and early on I could envision what it would look like. As the days neared to my first Mother’s Day without him, I headed to a nearby tattoo shop with a sketch drawn by my sister.
We chose a time when nobody else would be present, so only my husband, youngest son, and the artist were there. I wasn’t sure how emotional it would be for me; however it ended up being very therapeutic. Getting the tattoo didn’t hurt in the least, despite what I expected. Most of my family and friends knew nothing of it until weeks later and it shocked many.
I wanted angel wings incorporated into the design because I knew Austin was in Heaven. The wings wrap around him, much as I imagine the night they took him home. Austin deciding to become a Christian will always be one of my most treasured memories. Knowing where he is brings comfort, even though we still miss him with every breath.
Another important part for my tattoo was his unit number, 210, as it was special to him and our family. Austin, only 14 when he passed, was very proud to be a Jr Firefighter and he was thrilled to have his own unit number. Being a firefighter was all he ever wanted, following in his daddy’s footsteps. We were honored and touched when they retired his number at the funeral. Though hearing his “last call” at the graveside was what broke me, it was truly a privilege to have him remembered in that way.
People who don’t know me often ask what the number references. And each time, I proudly get to share a small piece of the difference my child made while on this earth. It is impossible to describe Austin in one word but that number symbolizes so very much of who he was.
I chose all black and grey because that is what it felt like with him gone, as if color had left our world. In placement, I wanted it to be on my lower leg so it could be seen more. Some people say they wear their heart on their sleeve, I wear mine on my leg.
Eight years later, it isn’t the tattoo I would get now, though it isn’t one I regret. It is a snapshot of that season, early in grief. The first year without my son.
Do you have a memorial tattoo for your child? Share a photo of it in comments below.
– the images you upload must be your own tattoo, or that of your significant other and you must have permission to use the photo
– we are not held responsible for any misuse of the photos uploaded
– please only share memorial tattoos – meaning a tattoo that you have had done on yourself in your child(ren)’s memory.