Letting Go…

Tattoo Day, in pictures. It was too image heavy to send in an email – I kept trying but it kept freezing up the app.

Sewing on the go train.

My view into the city.

Carbing up in Union Station. You need a good amount of carbs in your system, otherwise your blood sugar levels can crash – essentially you’re putting your body through trauma so it’ll fight what it deems to be an attack on the system. Some people report being extremely healthy after a tattoo session because the body is fighting to protect itself and thus becomes stronger immunity wise.

In the subway for a quick three stop ride. Normally I would’ve walked it but we’re pressed for time here.

Ugh. So much for pressed for time. Construction on Dundas!! That means I’m on a bus and buses make me pukey with how jerky and overheated they are. Also, construction. I hope I’m not late!!

So I didn’t get a shot of the front door. Oops. Also I made it on time!

Here’s what we’re covering up. It’s a 21 year old, poorly applied tattoo. I *could* have had it fixed but … that seems like too much work.

Here’s a panorama of the tattoo shop inside, where the tattoos actually get applied. The front of the shop is not visible in this picture but there are gorgeous plants out there that Ben (co-owner) is a master of taking care of. He’s the plant whisperer!!

Jacqueline’s area is in the corner on the far right, against the wall.

Note how it looks more like an art studio than the typical tattoo shop. It’s clean, friendly, and inviting.

Alright. This is the stencil. We’ve applied it to the leg but she’s realized the entire old Tattoo won’t be covered so she’s going to draw a leaf or petal with a toothpick and then she’ll trace the lines to cover that area.

Meet Jacqueline!! She reminds me of my friend Kate. You spend the day with either of them and they’re like the antidote to a shitty world or a shitty day. You leave there feeling lighter, refreshed, cleansed of the bullshit you don’t realize you’re bogged down with. I could spend all day with J. She’s incredible people. I know you’d love her.

Alright. It’s go time. Are you ready??

Outline of the flower is done. We chose purple because we needed to cover up the blue but we used four different kinds of purples…so it’s got depth and it’s just so pretty.

The flower is done!! You can’t even tell there was a crappy tattoo there before!! Also, her green leaves are incredible. I don’t know if this picture does it justice.

Switch positions and onto the hands, water, and petals. So this is a tender spot and where I start trying to find a way to accurately describe what a tattoo feels like after 6 hours. And I’ve got it. The burn you felt during a vaginal delivery is how a Tattoo feels after 6 hours. Raw. Hot. Sharp. You start attempting each Lamaze breathing exercise you know, and you invent your own, and then you have to remind yourself to continue to breathe.

The hand of the survivors with water flowing through their hands and fingers. Water is cleansing the soul, flowing through the fingers and it represents letting go.

Omg are we done yet ha ha she’s getting more ink for the hand of the one who has passed on. I’m sure my face was hilarious around this time.

Ok, here we go. We’re nearly done. She’s just doing the last of the hand now. The next four pictures are the completed Tattoo.

You can see how swollen my skin is. I don’t bleed much, I hold colour extreeeeeemely well, but I swell up like a balloon as soon as the machine turns on.

A lot of symbolism can’t be seen. The flower petals that have fallen are actually lighter in colour than those ON the flower, representing a loss of life over time, as time passes. The hand that is barely visible represents the hand of the lost loved one, always a reminder that she’s there, in my life, and always a part of me, of us. She unites us, in what was a hard and awful way but is now a beautiful way – there’s love, respect, friendship, and perhaps a need, too. I don’t know what I would’ve done without this friendship. It has made my burden easier to carry.

And so while the Tattoo looks sad, it’s about letting go of that sadness. Recognizing what happened, and not necessarily moving on (because I don’t know that you can), but accepting it for what it is. It will always be there but it doesn’t have to be a burden anymore. At least for me. It’s a transformation. Love, water, life, and death.

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