“Maddie you and I should get matching tattoos,” Rachel said.
“Mmmmm no thank you,” I responded. Tattoos weren’t my thing.
“We could get yin-and-yang. One side of it on each of us—because we are entirely opposites in every way, yet together, we are so well-matched, both so necessary. Together we are beautifully full,” she explained.
“How about you get yang and I get nothing? That would truly be opposites,” I cleverly retorted.
A month later, she did just that.
At the time, I could not comprehend how someone could get something so permanent, so irreversible etched into their skin. But she was, and always has been, so much wiser than me. She had already been through true permanence. True trauma. Her tattoos were declarations and celebrations of her survival. Permanent ink paled in comparison to the horrors she had seen.
As a result, her body—tattoos, piercings, wildly dyed hair and all—was a piece of art. A physical representation of the story she was heroically crafting. The story she was getting ready to tell.
For weeks after Rachel’s death, I desperately rifled through every inch of her belongings. Her purse. Her closet. Her phone. Her photos. Her phone calls. Her messages. Her calendars. Each and every page of her books and journals. Again. And again. And again.
I was searching for something. For anything.
A sign that we had missed.
A place to put our blame.
An indication she had thought of me.
Of our family. Of her friends. Of reaching out.
And there I found it in her email—not what I was searching for, but instead, a tattoo appointment she had made a couple of weeks prior. One that her death would prevent her from making it to.
Her tattoo plans?
The word sometimes.
On her wrist.
It was part of a song title by her beloved, favourite band, The 1975:
“I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)“
My already aching heart instantly dropped one thousand feet, barrelling deep into the pit of my stomach. Not because she was thinking of death.
But because the word from the title that she was focusing on was a word of hope.
She knew it.
She believed it.
But in that one last moment,
She forgot it.
This tattoo was supposed to be the declaration of her survival.
Of fighting . Of living.
She didn’t want to die.
Knowing she didn’t want it,
is the most harrowing “piece” she left behind.
So here it is, Rachel.
Our matching tattoo.
I’m so sorry it took so long.
If you are experiencing distressing or suicidal thoughts, I urge you please, to close your eyes. To breathe. To just get through this moment, to just get through today. You are loved. You are important. Behind the storm clouds, the sun still shines, and you will too. Please call the BC Suicide Hotline: 1-800-784-2433 or a friend, or a family member, or anyone.