Monday, April 22, 2013

On My First Tattoo

The reason I have a sparrow on my foot is because my sister went to hell and back. It's easy to say that now, with her residing so comfortably on this earth as if she's been here all along, but there was a time when she hadn't yet come back and she was just in hell, and we all were there with her a little.

The details are too long and personal to relay here, but they are scary and dark, and her light shines so bright now in comparison to them. She is an artist as she always was, strikingly gorgeous and full of life. She is quick to laugh and to forgive and to serve, and she plays with her nephew like there is nothing on earth she would rather be doing. Almost 5 years ago,  when she came back up to earth, she decided to get a tattoo to say something about everything she had survived and all she had been delivered from. It's a sparrow; a sign that God was there watching her all along. She and my mom, an artist too, designed it together and a few months later they designed the version of it that is permanently stamped onto my left foot.



Originally, I got the tattoo to say something to my little sister who had been through so much, something like "I love you" or "I'll always be here" but in a way that words could not. I also wanted to say something kind to myself because I am a woman of few talents, but sistering is one of them. I have loved and bossed and overprotected and defended and counseled and reprimanded my two siblings with all of my heart from the moments they were born, though they never asked it of me. I have always shouldered their burdens and cried for their struggles, mostly because I didn't know how not to, and the past few years had been especially rough for both of them, and so, for me too. So, I wanted to say something to myself about what I had made it through too, about how I had been a good sister even when it was hard.

Now, four years later, the sparrow says those things and something more, too. Most days, what is says most loudly is "Miracles happen, in profound and complicated ways." In the midst of this prolonged season of doubt, the sparrow reminds me of all the deeply personal and unlikely stories I've been blessed to witness in my short life, stories like my sister's, that I simply can't explain apart from my hunch that God is real.

I'm linking up to the Embodied Story Synchroblog at A Deeper Story

8 comments :

  1. Visiting from the Deeper Story linkup and so glad I did. This is a beautiful story, Alissa, and beautifully told. I believe you can add wordsmithing to your list of few talents. xo

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    1. Thank you so much. That is so sweet of you to say.

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  2. Oh, how lovely. I can feel your sistering through your story, through your words so tenderly chosen. I love the idea of being kind to yourself, accepting your sistering gift and the tattoo marking your connection to your sister. Thank you for sharing your ink, your story with us. So lovely.

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    1. Thank you! And thanks for hosting this! Such a great idea.

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  3. So lovely. Great tattoo, Alissa...thanks for sharing your story.

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  4. I love this story, Alissa. I have a little star on my shoulder, and my brother and I both left for college the same year and came to our dad's house for Christmas with matching tattoos. We didn't talk to each other. Now my bachelor brother tells my kids that he got his little star because it fell from the sky, but I go ahead and tell my kids that mine was ink and pain, which is an act of permanence in flesh, which is stupid and impossible, but also often totally worth doing. Anyway, I'm a sister, too, and I love that you love your sister. What's more important than that?

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    1. Thanks for reading Esther! That's crazy about the matching tattoos! And yes, I agree, stupid and impossible, but somehow important at the same time. : )

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