I'm so honored to share this latest tattoo story, my latest Gratitude Giveaway (for new readers: ever month I give away a commission to a client whose story moves me). It seemed appropriate to share this story on the heels of Mother's Day. Thank you to Leila, her father, and her family for modeling how to love so deeply. 

Dear Mara,

I’m so happy to send you the result of our collaboration on the "I carry your heart" tattoo. I can’t thank you enough for your beautiful design, and for your generosity of spirit in gifting it to me. I tried to capture the story behind the tattoo below.

My father is a 72 year old retired professor and has multiple sclerosis. He raised my sister and I as a single father, and did such a good job of it, that I count him as one of my best friends and greatest inspirations. My father lives with me and my husband and so his presence is a constant that we have all come to cherish. As he ages, I have been thinking more and more about how I will deal with his absence after he dies; and in all honesty, all I can come up with is “not well.” 

Growing up, it was not uncommon in our household to discuss the big questions in life, such as "what happens after you die?" My father, who taught comparative religious studies, would reply "no one knows what happens for sure, but anytime you need me just think of our conversations and you will know what I would say to you, I'll always be there in that way." I would protest (especially when I was younger) that this wasn't enough and I needed him to be around forever. He would smile and say that he would prefer that too, but no matter what we will always have a relationship.

I just turned forty and recently had my second child, and wanted to mark these occasions with something meaningful and permanent. It was important to choose something that would remind me of the enormous love and joy my family brings and how we are all part of one another. For some reason, I looked up at my wall, where I have a painting of e.e. cumming's poem "I carry your heart." Of course! That is what was read at my wedding, what I read every day on my wall, and what perfectly captures the feeling of being deeply connected.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

When I started to look at script for my tattoo, I noticed that every tattoo I was drawn to came from your designs. I love the elegant, graceful, and modern quality in your work and am honored that you generously gifted me this gorgeous design. Thank you Mara, you hold a special place in my heart!


Thank you to Nick Vargus of F/U Tattoo in Santa Cruz, CA and Yvonna Kramer for the photos.