Friday, November 2, 2012

Tattoo Story # 5 - Trying To Be Hopeful

All work done by Michael Facchini
at Blackhole Tattoo (West) in Beaverton,OR
Along with the balloon (see tattoo story #1) this tattoo has more conflicting emotions than any other. 

Some friends had a baby last week and of course everyone was interested in the babies name. It didn't occur to me until two days later, that I have a nephew with the same name. I have never met him, nor have I met his brother. I wouldn't recognize them if they walked up to me in a room. That realization was devastating. How could I not make that connection with my own family?

While I have a few fond memories of my sister, I have a truckload of painful ones. Memories like sitting alone in the rec. room of an inpatient facility for troubled kids as a nine year old, as my parents went to yet another therapy session with her. Memories of my parents and grandparents fighting about what the next best step was for her. Memories of my niece being ripped away from us and the stable home we provided as she was taken back to uncertainty. Memories of the #2 worst day of my life #1 also being related to the balloon. 

I won't share the details of that day. I can't, a blog is far to public a place for such things. Sufficed to say it was devastating. She made a choice that ripped me apart inside.  I know that choice was not made lightly. I know that choice was born out of crushing pain, and fear that she was dealing with. I don't judge her for that choice, but it was devastating none the less. 

That day I made an unconscious line in the sand. I tried to be there for her in the aftermath, calling, checking in, but slowly, I found myself checking out too. I was checking out of my emotions for her, for whatever her future was to hold. I was locking away parts of my heart that were already bruised and battered and trying to shield them. 

I know she is not a bad person, she struggles with things I will never know about. Life has not been easy for her emotionally and there are things going on in her brain I can't even begin to fathom. I'm a sinner too, not immune to bad choices.  I am saved only by the grace of Christ, I live by grace, and she needs that grace too. I just don't know how to share it with her anymore. I don't know how to get past all the bad choices, all the things that have happened. 

All work done by Michael Facchini
at Blackhole Tattoo (West) in Beaverton,OR
I got this tattoo, not long after that day. It is always in front of me. Even as I type the wing peaks out from underneath my forearm. It is a reminder that my sister is precious to God too. He takes care of the birds, so how much more precious are each of us. It may sound silly, but it helps. It helps me to switch off the anger, the hurt, and see her as a precious child of God, free to receive the same grace and mercy that I rely on. Broken and bruised just like me.  This tattoo and the balloon it holds in it's beak are the two tattoos I have that have never healed right. My arm just couldn't hold all the ink well, and infection set in. Even when touched up by our amazing artist, they still have spots and imperfections, scars that won't disappear.  I'm sure the emotional scars will never be erased either. 

Hopefully this holiday season, our paths will cross; I will meet my new nephews, and we will have grace with each other.  She will forgive me for not reaching out to her more, not taking the time to be a part of the lives of these kids, and I will look at her and not see the painful memories. I work at having hope that we will make new ones. I'll make sure to wear short sleeves, so the bird is right there staring at me. Hopefully she will find a way to fight through her fears and the obstacles in her life to make better choices, and take responsibility for the things she has done. I try to be hopeful things will change for her in good ways and she will live into the full potential she has as a child of the amazing God. Maybe she already is; her name is Hope after all. 

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