Growing up I thought about getting a tattoo all the time however I don’t have a high tolerance for pain so I never did it . Then one day I found myself with a pain so deep in my heart that the pain of the tattoo needle wouldn’t come close to matching it. Suddenly I was ready to sit in the chair.
In May of 2006, I would sit for 3.5 hours straight to get my first tattoo. The artist was heavy handed and I cried for several hours while getting it. Not a heavy ugly cry. The kind of cry where the tears well up in your eyes and roll down your face. Technically he wasn’t the artist I originally wanted/talked to. He was just another artist, in the same shop, that was available on the day I desired. There wasn’t enough time to correct the communication mistake with my top choice artist. The day was super important to me because it marked one year since I had seen/spoken to my nieces. I was heartbroken.
The names of my nieces, along with specific symbols, make up the design of the tattoo. The colors and style were inspired by Henna. Henna has been around for centuries and comes with a positive connotation. One of the reasons I like it is because it doesn’t contain any black. That seems to be rare for a tattoo.
It all started when I got the news my younger sister was going to die. I put school & two jobs on pause and got on a plane to face my dysfunctional past. I had not seen or spoken to my biological mother for close to six years. It was a family friend that called me on that random Tuesday morning at 7:30 a.m. to inform me about my sister. My sister was only 21 years old. She would be leaving behind two little girls, ages 3 and 18 months, whom I hadn’t met yet.
I almost met the eldest one (once) when my sister took a road trip with her boyfriend at the time from Las Vegas to come and see me in Austin TX. They would get two speeding tickets along the way. This would cause them to turn around and head back, not ever making it to Texas.
Attending the funeral would force me to see people that were abusive to me in the past. The “past” being the most important word here. I worked hard to rise above where I came from. When contemplating how I was going to get through these challenging times, I realized that I was an adult. I realized that I hadn’t seen or spoken to any of them in years. I was busy putting myself through college, working, and all around taking care of myself. There wasn’t anything they could do to me now. Their opinions certainly didn’t matter to me. These facts gave me the courage to go. I went to Las Vegas because I wanted to meet my nieces and say goodbye to my sister. I knew I would regret it if I didn’t.
There would be a few things I would need in order to go. I got back in touch with my therapist – she agreed to be on speed dial for me. I am eternally grateful to her for this. I also needed a back-up plan on a place to stay. The first roommate I ever had in life married her Air Force boyfriend and was currently stationed in Las Vegas. She graciously agreed to be my backup plan if things took a downturn while I was there. I am eternally grateful to her for this.
My sister died within 24 hours of my being there. I was the only one in the family that stepped up to say I wanted to help raise the girls. I wasn’t going to move to Las Vegas to do it though. I had been living in Austin for about 7 years , I was years deep into college and working hard to do it. I didn’t want to live in a state where prostitution was legal. Sin City is fun to visit but not to live.
I could help if they moved to Austin. At the time, my close friend was the manager of the apartment complex I was living at. She would make sure that they would have a place to stay. They moved a few months later.
It didn’t take long for the estranged relationship with my biological mother to turn tense. I even tried family therapy however she was unwilling to talk about the past. She has never offered an apology and my therapist didn’t think she ever would. Without one , there can be no forward progress for me. Correction – I can move on without her. It’s better this way.
They managed to live in Austin for about a little over a year before she would lie to me and tell me they were going on vacation when secretly she was planning to move to Oregon. She didn’t give many details and I didn’t ask for them since I didn’t want to engage with her.
Time passed and it was getting to be towards the end of the week of their vacation. I hadn’t heard from her and she didn’t return my phone call. I started to wonder about the details of their return. Did they need a ride from the airport? Were they getting in late? When would I be able to spend time with my nieces next?
I was having dinner with my boyfriend at a restaurant close to their apartment, so we decided to drive by their place after dinner. To my shock, horror and dismay, after peeking through the blinds, I found an empty apartment. I immediately cried in an inconsolable way and threw up my dinner.
I called her one more time to inform her that if I didn’t hear from her by the end of the next day that I would go to the police department and file missing persons reports on all 3 of them. As far as I was concerned, my family went on vacation and I haven’t heard from anybody since. I was getting very worried. She returned my phone call only to confirm what I already knew. They were gone………
Having children taking from your life is one of the most painful things a heart can handle. I fell in love with those girls from the moment I met them. They taught me the meaning of unconditional love. I helped pick out daycare, attended school plays, went to teacher conferences. I gave up every weekend I could just so I could spend time with them. To have them come over for sleepovers, to play with them, to read to them, to cook for them, to love them. To teach them how to navigate life. To expose them to culture events that extended beyond our own so they may be respectful to all. My heart goes out to anyone who knows this pain ❤
Eventually she changed the phone number, leaving me no way to get in touch with them.
Only through the generous gesture of a new friend would I be able to make plans to travel to Oregon to get them back into my life (for a few years anyways).
Covert operation = get nieces back !!
Until then, I will carry them with me – in my heart and on my right arm. I’m over the fear of the needle now. I have gotten many tattoos since. I like the idea of two 3/4 sleeves. One can’t really predict these things- Just like how heavy handed an artist will be.
Love you mis sobrinas bonitas.