When my sister passed away in 2004 at the far too young age of four, my heart broke. Although I was still young myself, the memory of her life still flooded my mind. She loved nachos and mac n'cheese. Her sass exceeded mine, which I didn't think was possible. Her little glasses were almost always crooked. She had the sweetest soul and the kindest heart. In the days, months, and years following her death, we remembered our beautiful brown-eyed girl in various ways. We celebrated her birthday with massive plates of cheesy nachos and strawberry shortcake. On Christmas Eve, we dotted her grave with little candles that shone brightly in the dark and snowy cemetery. My mom wrote a book to tell the story of our Hannah Marie, in order that we might not forget even the smallest detail of her short life.
Almost thirteen years later, Hannah's life seems to be a somewhat distant memory in the past. Momma's book sits dusty on the shelf, still full of meaningful words, but only to be pulled out and read on the anniversary of our baby girl's death. We remember her less often, as life moves on and the love of our family has partially filled the hole in our hearts. I don't want to forget my sister; I don't want there to be a day that goes by that I don't think about her long brown hair and the way she smiled with those ridiculously crooked teeth. To me, the best way to remember Hannah is no longer with a bouquet of flowers or a quick glance at her picture sitting on my nightstand. I love those memories but I want something more, something permanent.
A tattoo marks the body forever. It symbolizes a form of commitment through carefully drawn lines of black ink. To some, this is terrifying or even offensive, because once the needles push the ink into your skin, there's no going back. The lines, words, or pictures won't be removed; they will remain a part of your body even until you're old and wrinkly. To me, there are few things more unforgettable than a tattoo, which is why I chose this as my way to commemorate the four joy-filled years that my baby sister lived. Now, every morning when I'm getting dressed, I can turn my head to the mirror and see a reminder on my back of the mark Hannah left on my life. The date of her death is printed in small letters across the curve of an infinity shape, symbolizing a little girl who is forever in my heart and always has my back.
I know that choosing to permanently mark my body is a decision that some will disagree with -- that's usually the verdict with tattoos. I do it not because I want to fit in with the trend or because I was drunk one night and decided to make a random rash decision with my friends. I tattoo my body because there will be a day when I am placed in the ground for my body to no longer exist. My time on earth is only temporary, so what is stopping me from remembering the ones I love with a deep lasting memory?
Life is short, and I want to remember those who lived, loved, died, and continue to live on in my heart.