There are many ways of memorializing your pet and though a tattoo on the spine might not be for everyone, it spoke to me loud and clear. It symbolizes the incredible bond I shared with Angel, she’s “got my back” forever and the words I chose are what I whispered to her as she passed away in my arms. Though the tattoo is not the shape of an Angel, it is surely the most significant representation of the blessing my Angel was to me.
Roughly two months had passed since she left me and I was barely starting to be coherent and sociable. I had spent the first few weeks festering in a turmoil of despair, deep emotional pain and depression. Thankfully I had Nugget by my side, forcing me to focus on the care and needs of another being. After some consideration, I decided to contact my good friend Rocco, the owner of Tattoo Mania on Sunset Boulevard in LA. He said he would be honored to do it and I felt it was the perfect fit.
We packed up the truck and this was Nugget’s first road trip. It was good for me to get out of the home environment, where everything was a constant reminder that I no longer was greeted by Angel at the door, didn’t hear her nuzzling on Mr Piggy, her favorite toy, nor felt her big head next to me on my pillow at night. The void was palpable.
The rain was pouring down HEAVY when we approached the San Bernadino pass and whether it was the difficulty to see the road or my emotions getting the best of me, I don’t know. But I had a full blown panic attack while driving. All I could hear was my scream piercing through the air, tears streaming down my face and uncontrollable shaking from crying so hard. I had to pull over and compose myself, take a breath, or twenty, before feeling safe enough to continue driving. Words can not describe the physical pain I experienced, directly caused by my emotional state.
That was my first “sober” release. The weeks leading up to the trip, I was drowning my sorrows with anxiety medication and sleeping pills, unable to accept the loss and deal with reality. But knowing that I was driving, I wanted to make sure my mind was clear and that I was focused. And the time had come for me to face my fears and start healing.
After nervously getting ready at the hotel, I took a last look at the unmarked skin on my back and said good bye. There is no turning back now. I grabbed Nugget and jumped in a cab, zooming through West Hollywood, Tattoo Mania here we come!
It was so comforting to see my friend Rocco. He assured me I would be fine and his assistant made stencils of the font that I brought with my saying: “If My Heart Was Made Out Of Tears, You Would Float Away On A River Of Love”. Those words are so beautiful, heartfelt and truly unique to the unconditional love they represent between Angel and myself. After a few trials, we got it straight and I laid down on the table ready to get inked.
Let me tell you, when the needle first pierced the skin on my spine, I thought: “Wow, this is what it must feel like when a razor blade cuts your skin”! The spine is supposedly one of the most painful areas on your entire body to get a tattoo. But it wasn’t long before I almost drifted off into a twilight zone, Rocco even asked if I was OK, that’s how quiet and still I was. I can only explain it with a comparison between the emotional pain in my heart and the physical pain of the needle. The sound of the tattoo machine became soothing and with each drop of ink entering my skin, a small amount of despair was slowly fading away. When I got up, I was in a euphoric state and Nugget sealed it with some wet kisses.
This might be an extreme way of remembering your pet, but who is anyone to judge?! We all grieve differently and it’s important to honor YOUR journey. What helps you heal might not be right for someone else, and that’s OK. Just like the unique bonds we shared with our furbabies, we have equally unique journeys when dealing with the loss. Ultimately, you should do what makes you feel good. As for me, I am proud and honored to be The Girl With The Angel Tattoo.