When I was no more than three weeks on my own at college, I got a tattoo.

And a bad one at that.

It only cost $50 and at the time, I didn’t know that art (on your body or elsewhere) is not something to cheap out on.

But, I was with a group of upper-classmen from my NCAA Division I Field Hockey Team and the trip to the parlor felt a bit like a test.

“Pierced or poked,” I remember one of the girls saying.

Though it wasn’t really a choice.  The NCAA mandated that no player would take the field with any visible piercings, so my thought process was that I better get inked.  No matter that I was a walk-on, and throughout the entire season only saw two minutes of actual playing time.

So, I drew a shooting star that I sometimes doodled in the margins of my notebooks and asked the artist if he could put it on my back.

“Sure,” he said.  “This will be my first one.”

“What, shooting star?” I asked.

“No, tattoo.”

It came out exactly how you think a $50, first-time, based on a doodle tattoo would come out.

But, no matter.  I loved it anyway…until I didn’t.

For more than a decade now, I’ve been talking about getting the tattoo redone, changed into something else, even removed, but never have.

Honestly, most of the time I forget it’s even there.

But, today, I remembered.

Late this afternoon, I found myself in a deep and meaningful conversation with a mother who’s recently lost her teenage son.

Her pain is massive – but her unyielding love, connection, and devotion to her boy is even bigger.

I want to share how honored I feel to be collaborating with her and some of her son’s most treasured friends in crafting an event to celebrate his life…but the words to encase such privilege escape me.

Toward the end of our conversation this loving, grieving, endlessly hopeful Mom thanks me for my time and compassion – and then she shares a very personal story.

One about seeing a shooting star the night of her son’s passing…and how she’s understood them as clear signs of guidance ever since.

Suddenly, I know exactly how to express my gratitude for her trust in me.  I text her a picture of my tattoo in all it’s teenaged and doodled glory.

And we are both filled with love.







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