The three mast ship on my right thigh is there in honor of my dad. He died when I was fifteen, in a motorcycle accident on August 15, 2009. He was a biker who was covered in tattoos, so I knew immediately I wanted to get a tattoo in his memory. It seemed like the only thing to do. After he died, I was a confused, truth-starved, story-seeking, wisdom-hunting teenager for about a year and a half. Sixteen was not so sweet for me. Almost a full year after he passed away, my aunt, my cousin, my dad’s best friend, and I went to the beach and sailed out on a ship a few miles into the ocean where we sprinkled my dad’s ashes. In that moment, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. I looked down into the salty waters to see the ashes spiraling, down, down, down, becoming one with the earth and its waters. And I swore to myself that I saw his face one last time in those swirling ashes (if you’ve never seen this, its similar to how cream swirls into coffee). On the ride back to shore, my foot was burning and stinging pretty bad. I looked down to see a small cut on my foot, irritated by the salt water that was splashing onto it over and over as we sailed.
My dad loved the ocean and always had, he often went fishing with his father, and my best memories of my dad are on the beach or in the sun at least. I decided to get a ship and waves because the whole experience of losing my dad took me on a journey… a voyage. It taught me that each person has their own journey to experience, that no journey is better or more significant or superior than another, but most of all that every journey, every life, has a God-given purpose. My heavenly Father had sent me on a journey, and this was all part of it. I could not allow myself to be a ship wreck anymore, I had to pick up the pieces and sail on! Yes, my dad would always be with me, in the waters underneath me and in my past, but this could not prevent me from going places, loving people, and seizing the day. It had to be the power that pushed me on; not the thing that held me back. It had to be what kept my ship buoyant; not what I crashed into. I had to let the salt water heal my cuts, so that I could get on with my journey.