The tattoo that saved a life… Tattoos and Suicide Part I

For every bad thing ever said about a tattoo, I always defended the form of self expression. And from this day forward will never tolerate hearing any malice towards the art form or those who perform it. All because of this.  A tattoo saved my husbands life.  A simple tat. Just a name, just an arm. And it saved his life.

Long time followers of my Facebook page are aware, we are personal friends with some amazing tattoo artists. A family run operation, our friends Shane, Samm, Vicki, and Athena run Thurmont Tattoo, located in Thurmont, Maryland. When they were local to us, we would have them over for dinner, have home tattoo sessions, stop by the shop just to say hello. We still call them to celebrate our family triumphs, our tragedies  and our best and worst moments. Over the years, they became not only our ink artists, but friends, and now they feel like a part of our family. They are perceptive, warm, loving, and amazing. And they gave my husband the tattoo that saved his life…

My story… After work, two weeks ago. 

13 missed calls? How did I get 13 missed calls? What on earth could be wrong? From her cell phone? Oh lord. She is in the hospital again. Oh god, maybe it is my husband. His breathing is not much better since he got the bronchitis. He was supposed to start his night shift again.  Please god let him have made it to work alright. Calling her. Straight to voicemail. Why? Try again. Straight to voicemail again.  Ok. Call his work. He called out sick. Maybe the bronchitis got worse. They tell me his mom called and said something about the hospital. Ok, so he is in the hospital. Call my roommate to see if he can watch Hurricane. Mid call. Call waiting. Oh god it is mom. Let him be ok. 

Hello? Mom? What’s going on? At the Emergency Room? Why? But? He did what? Wait? WHAT? How? No mom, I am not ok hearing this. Well I will be. Will they let me see him? He is where? I mean WHICH emergency room?  But how? And he called you? OK I am on the way.

Suicide. He attempted suicide? But why? How could I have missed the signs? How is he doing? How will we recover as a family? What will this do to our family unit? Is he going to be ok? How did I miss it? He seemed fine. Tired. Stressed. But he just recently started to see a therapist. She put him on a medication. Maybe the medicine is making him worse. I hear that can happen. He is supposed to be getting better.  It could be nothing. Sure. That is it. The medicine. It has made him worse.  Oh lord, if our son had found him. If he had been successful. How DARE HE? Our SON would have been the first one to find him. I would have let him take the keys and run ahead of me into the house to see Daddy when I saw the truck home. That prick! I wonder…How did he try? Why? How did I miss the signs? His mom couldn’t let me talk to him. Oh god, I hope he is ok. Please, lord. Let him be ok. I can’t…Oh my. I almost lost my husband. Oh lord PLEASE not my husband.  Thank god he called his mom. Why didn’t he call me? Let me check my phone. Ok he did try to call me. Why didn’t I have my phone on me?  Why wasn’t this a day where I left it in my pocket?  I hope he is going to be ok. Oh lord. Please give me strength. Please let him be ok. Please. Let him be. Just let him be. Let him be strong and alive. Let him be safe. Let him be in my arms. I am going to punch him. Our son…that prick! But he is alive. Thank you lord, he is still alive. He was not successful. Oh god. How did I miss this? How? 

Drop off the kid. Get my laptop because I know hospital TV sucks, he might be bored.  Plus my page and my internet friends are my escape. My safe spot… Pull the roommate aside. Fill him in. I gotta get to the hospital. Call his two best friends. They are brothers to him. WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN HE TOLD YOU HE TRIED THIS ALREADY LAST MONTH!?!?!?!?!?!?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!??????? And I am just now hearing about this? FUCK BRO CODE. Fuck him saying he would see a shrink and then doing it. Yes, He WAS going to see a doctor. But still. How could you not tell me? This is fucking serious. YES you needed to tell me. I have to tell the doctors. This changes everything. He might not get to come home now.  OK. No time to fight about this. I will deal with you later.

REWIND: THREE YEARS 5 MONTHS – KING PIGZ STORY
Samm:  Listen, bro, I think you should get your son’s name down as part of the sleeve we are starting on your forearm instead of your back.
KP: Really? I was thinking I would put it on the shoulder as part of the back piece we are starting
Samm: I really think it needs to go on your arm. You should have the most important things in your life front and center. I really feel like this is a better idea.
KP: You are the expert, man.  Ok. Right there. Top side of my forearm. Let’s do this.  
(The tat ended up being Hurricane’s name down his forearm, and the birthday on his wrist like a bracelet)

FAST FORWARD-2 WEEKS AGO
King Pig stands in the kitchen. Holding a knife. He can’t take the pressure. He feels useless. Alone. Hopeless. He stands over the sink. Knife in hand. Tired of being in pain. Tired of feeling alone in a house and world full of people. Tired of feeling like no one cares. Tired of not understanding the fear that grips him on a daily basis, the thoughts that race through his head.  Tired of feeling like a burden because I am doing it all at home. He holds the knife in his right hand and reaches his left arm out over the sink.  Suddenly, while turning his arm over to get the correct angle on his wrist, he catches sight of the tattoo. The one he was going to have put on his back. There it was. Front and center. His son’s name stares up at him, in the same shade of deep red as the blood he was getting ready to spill. He stops. His son. He knows since losing his own father last year just how bad the pain is of losing a parent. His son. 5 years old. Would never recover from this. His wife. Me. He wonders how I will get by without him. He stumbles. He drops the knife into the sink. He hits the floor and fumbles to find his phone in his pocket. In tears, he tries to get someone on the phone. Anyone. First me. No answer. I am at work. Of course he can’t reach me. I am working. Teaching. My phone is in my bag while I am with my students. He panics. Considers grabbing the knife again. Runs his hand up and down his arm over his son’s name, there, in bright red ink. As red as the blood he was about to spill. He fumbles with his phone again. This time, he reaches his mother. He starts to cry. Through his tears she hears the words. Suicide. Pain. Help. She calls him from her cell on call waiting. She keeps her cool and keeps him on the phone. Talks to him the whole way down the highway to our house. She arrives. The normal 25 minute drive takes her 12 minutes. She begs him to get in the car. Tells him she will call the police if he doesn’t. He gets in the car. ER. She calls his doctor while she waits. No answer. They take him back. The frantic calls to me begin. But thank god he is alive.

A tattoo saved his life. The next several months will be filled with appointments. Pain. Healing. But a tattoo saved his life. And I will never. EVER. Be able to thank Samm enough. A simple conversation and decision. It saved his life. Thank you lord for bringing us to the shop for the first time 3 years ago. Thank you for your guidance and for inspiring Samm to make the choice he made. And thank you for keeping my husband on this earth. I would be lost without him. And I will forever be grateful for the tattoo, that saved his life.

Inked The first letter. Samm, no matter what happens in your life, please know this simple bit of ink, will have more impact than anyone could ever know. We love you.

Part II of this healing journey has been written and can be found here:
https://momtroversial.wordpress.com/2013/06/22/a-tattoo-and-suicide-more-than-just-you/

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About momtroversial

I am a mom who often parents in ways that are considered too old fashioned or too unconventional. My husband went through a major mental health breakdown and took me on the roller coaster with him. At some point we will get off this damn ride. I recently went through a series of life altering events that have made me re-think my whole outlook on life. I am trying to be the kind of mom my work as a career nanny should have prepared me for but it does not always work. I hope to impact the lives of others that I KNOW are living with the same fears, hopes, dreams, anger, pain, joy, and more. Suicide and ink and children and life. That's about it. View all posts by momtroversial

8 responses to “The tattoo that saved a life… Tattoos and Suicide Part I

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