Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tattoo Story #1: Cameron's Balloon

All work done by Michael Facchini
at Blackhole Tattoo (West) in Beaverton,OR

My tattoos aren't an act of rebellion or my way of trying to be cool. They are symbols of my faith, the people that I love, and things God has taught me. Each one is a testimony, and I used to share them when I spoke, but people got offended.  So, I will share the stories here, where you can choose to read them or not.  And if you are worried about your kids getting tattooed because of me, don't be. Chances are they are rolling their eyes at me, they can't get one until they are 18 anyway, and if they did want one, I have probably already talked them out of it. Today though, is all about Cameron, so I thought I would share the story of his tattoo.

A year ago today, we lost Cameron. It was quite possibly the worst day of my life, and the lives of many of the people I love. I got a phone call from my friend telling me he had died. Words can't describe the anquish and horror of that moment.  He wasn't my child, my brother or my nephew, I hadn't grown up with him, but he was one of mine. As a youth minister, every kid in your group becomes a part of your heart, your family. Wading through this awful new experience of lossing one of our own, was gut wrenching, as we gathered our students to tell them. The days that followed were so busy with mourning and comforting, I felt like I was crying out to God every five minutes for strength and direction.

This tattoo was to honor Cameron, and it was designed by two of my other students. I am priveledged to have this balloon, inspired by Cameron, planned and plotted by Graci and Shade, and drawn and given to me by our artist friend, Michael. It connects me to all of them, especially Cam, and I treasure it. Memorial tattoos have a beautiful way of allowing you to celebrate, mourn and reflect on someone everyday.  The act of getting the tattoo itself causes you to pause and live in the moment, and gives a physical manifestation of the otherwise ambigous pain.

The image came as I tried to grapple with someone so young dying so suddenly. As ridiculous as it may seem, all I could think of was balloons. Kids want them so badly, but you know they are only going to last an hour, a day maybe two at the most, if they even make it home.  Then there is sadness and anger when they float off or are popped. They are frustrating for me, but for my kids balloons are pure joy, while they last. I could refuse to let them have balloons and save us all the frustration, but I would rob them of that joy.

Cameron was our balloon. He brought a ton of joy and laughter to our group, to me.  His smile and his giggle lit up everything we did together. He cared so deeply for his friends. He would bring them to youth group, and rat them out, when he felt they were in danger.  He was awesome.

Just like a balloon though, he didn't last long.  He left us way too soon. It was painful, it still is. But if not having this pain, meant never knowing Cameron, I would take the pain everyday. However briefly we had Cameron, he was precious. 

So I have a balloon, to remind me of that precious boy, and to remind me to be grateful for the awesome moments. I am reminded to be grateful for the people in my life and the joy they bring me everyday, and for the joy from those I have lost. I see it everyday, and it brings me more happiness than pain.

God knew Cameron wouldn't last long, but he gave him to us anyway. God gives and he takes away (or allows it to be taken) and though I don't understand it or always like it, blessed be the name of the Lord.

1 comment: