Whenever a client requests a tattoo, I leave it up to them to share the motivation behind it. Some do, some don't. I'm honored that many clients choose to share the life-changing stories that have inspired them to mark that moment in their lives on their body. These stories, in turn, inspire me (and hopefully you!). Claire's is the latest. It comes at a time when I've been thinking a lot about death, having had three friends lose loved ones in the last month. How remarkable to have the strength to salvage a marriage, and the grace to honor the person who believed so fervently that salvation.
My dear friend Keke showed me the true meaning of love, friendship, patience and compassion. In the midst of the breakdown of my 13 year marriage she spoke of restoration. She spoke of my marriage being bigger and better than it was before. I couldn't see it. She diligently prayed, believed and got excited for the prospect of my renewed marriage, while I questioned and doubted.
Cliff and I had gone away with our children - things were still a little strained, but starting to get better. It was at this time that out of the blue, I received a message that Keke had collapsed and was quickly diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor.
Despite her own situation, she continued to champion my marriage. She never stopped believing that it would be something great.
Keke astounded the doctors with her generous spirit, and was passionate about praying for those who were battling cancer like herself. She put others before herself daily.
My last text message from her ended, "...arohanui, keeks xx". Sadly she passed away in November 2012.
Arohanui, is a maori sentiment of encouragement and strength. It means to be large, plentiful, abundant. In its basic form, Aroha means to feel love, concern, compassion, empathy. Nui expresses a state or condition rather than an activity.
Arohanui symbolises everything that Keke was as a person. It was a privilege to know her, and it is a daily reminder and encouragement in my restored marriage.
Thank you to Claire, tattoo artist Stuart Archibald at the Family Business in London, and photographer Errol Bennet.