People ask about my tattoo sometimes. My answer depends on who is asking and what kind of mood I’m in. I can simply say, “I like music” when I don’t want to get into it all, or I can go into the whole story. Most of the time I keep it to myself. Usually the people who ask have no idea that I lost a child, and sometimes I prefer to keep it that way. Sometimes it’s nice to not be treated like a sad, pitiable grieving mother.
Annie has noticed my tattoo plenty of times in the past, but recently she asked, “What’s this?” while looking at it. I tried to keep my answer as simple as possible and told her it’s my Maddie mark, and that I like to touch it and think about Maddie. Often, Annie will ask to kiss it, then bend forward and carefully put her lips on my wrist. That’s not something I’ve ever done – Annie did it entirely on her own.
Annie’s interest in my Maddie mark has only grown as she has gotten a better understanding of Maddie. She loves to watch videos of her sister and is enthralled by the photos of Maddie in our hallway, so much so that she often kisses them as I carry her past.
A few days ago Annie was once again examining my Maddie mark when she surprised me by asking, “Where’s my Maddie?”
At first I told her she didn’t have one, only Mommy did, but as the day went on she kept asking about it.
“Annie want a Maddie?” she begged. “Please?”
After the fifth or sixth time of her asking this I looked down at her little face which was so hopeful. After a moment of thought I relented, grabbed a pen, and drew on her wrist.
When I finished Annie stared at her Maddie mark a long moment, then lifted it to her face and kissed her wrist.
She’s been showing her wrist to everyone she encounters. It’s washed off a few times and she’s flipped out, so I’ve drawn it back on again. I’ve watched her playing by herself, and she’ll even show it to her dolls.
I hope drawing the design on her wrist was the right thing to do. Right now she’s too little to understand what happened to her family before she was born. The significance of my tattoo is lost on her right now. I just hope this will be one of the little things that helps her feel like she’s always known and understood Maddie’s story, and not something that will confuse her. It’s a difficult thing for anyone to understand, and even though I know I’m doing the best I can, I still worry constantly that it’s not good enough.