September 20, 2016 part 2

Back on the train leaving the city. I think this may be my most gorgeous and painful tattoo to date. It’s on my the left side of my torso, between my hips & ribs. It’s an extremely sensitive spot. 

Here’s the origin of this tattoo, with a reveal of it fresh off the table at the end. 

Rupert’s cuttlefish tattoo

This is the only picture of his tattoo that I know of. I couldn’t find any, even with his 4,000 photos going back years on his phone. I had the funeral parlor take this photo. Yep, this is a posthumous photo of Rupert’s tattoo. A friend graciously photoshopped it for me before letting me see it. She said his skin was pale with deep pools of blood forming. My tattoo artist, Tex Buss, said that we would make the tattoo look alive again. 

Alexius was an important figure in Rupert and my lives. He passed 11 years ago, and the shared grief was an intense bond. It is amazing how death binds the living. I chose to include a calla lily to represent Alexius in this tattoo. I don’t have any photos of his tattoos. On one of his thighs was a traditional calla lily, the other based on the Cocteau Twins album, Lullabies:

Cocteau Twins album, Lullabies

I adored these two when I was a teenager. Decades later, I fell in love with the one. I see their photo on my mantle now, young and beautiful and sassy, laughing. My Lost Boys. 

At my friend/designers suggestion, I placed myself in the art. 

Green Fairy, art by Kate El-Bizri

With these elements, the design came to life. With the cuttlefish as the main image, we placed the green fairy inside. Below is Rupert’s cuttlefish, fresh and raw on my skin. The green fairy negative space, holding Alexius’ calla lily. 

My new tattoo: Rupert’s cuttlefish, Alexius’ cala lily, and me, the green fairy

The best memorial tribute I could think of for my two beautiful lost boys. It hurt, this tattoo. Oh how it hurt! Every single spot hurt. Sometimes with a tattoo, you get a few bad spots but you get relief in others. Not this one. Deep in the hurt, I thought about the physical pain Alexius went through as his AIDS brought on liver issues and not long after, leukemia, and death a few weeks after that. He was 39. I thought about the physical pain Rupert went through during his motorcycle accident. I don’t know what he felt, if he was conscious, if he even knew what was happening. Hopeful that it happened very fast. He was 45. 

Oh right, and then there’s my pain. I hurt so much I feel weird inside just about all the time. Eleven years ago, the pain of getting the phone call that Alexius had died while boarding a plane to visit one last time, five months pregnant. The pain of turning around, selling my ticket, and taking a cab home. The pain of accepting Alexius’ death. Not yet three months ago, the pain of not understanding why my texts to Rupert hadn’t been marked delivered all day. The pain of a friend telling me that he and two friends had bad news and needed to talk, and all I could think was, “Where’s Rupert? Where’s Rupert?” The pain of learning my partner is dead. The pain of accepting Rupert’s death. 

I’m alive. I get to experience pain. I get to feel. Bring on that exquisite pain! Two hours under the needle seemed easy in comparison. The train has taking me home to care for my new ink. 

2 thoughts on “September 20, 2016 part 2”

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