Dear John Michael,
Such a wonderful writer you were and what an uncanny insight you had – such pleasure we gain from reading your highschool journals – or looking at the notes you took in highschool and college classes. You wouldn’t let me throw away any of this – so glad I have it now. I also love looking at all those German notecards you made that you also wouldn’t let me throw away. Yes, I know someday I will have to say goodbye to them, but right now they give me comfort.
I believe that everyone needs to express themselves – and, what better way than journaling……but, I also think of those who express themselves through other artistic ways – music and art. You loved art museums – I think your favorite was the High Museum in Atlanta, especially when they had all the works of Norman Rockwall on display. Even with tickets, we waited in line for a couple of hours.
So, goes my story today about art……after your freshman year of college you begged me for a tattoo; I said, no, wait until you’re 21 (thinking this idea would go away). You wanted a Celtic cross. Two years later, I think in a joking manner, in a ski shop in Jackson Hole, Dad said why not the spider emblem from your Spider Ski Jacket – and, you said only if you’ll get a matching one. So, you delayed your Celtic Cross and much to my dismay, you both had matching spiders tattooed on your shoulders – to share your bond of love of skiing together….and, of each other.
As October 11 neared, it was mentioned to me that Steven Curtis Chapman and his family all had tattoos in honor of his small daughter who left this life early. I then knew that I had to carry out your wish for a Celtic Cross — but, this time on my body, intertwined with your initials. I now wear this piece of art so proudly; although all of you resides in my heart, this cross is part of you ….my John Michael badge – a badge of courage that stands for so many things to me …… your courage as you faced the end of this life — and, my courage as I face everyday. And, by the way, when looking up Celtic Crosses, I chose the one you seemed to love – your Celtic Cross across my back is known as the Resurrection Cross. So smile, my sweet son…..yes, your mother gave you grief over your tattoo, but I now wear one with pride.
“He sends a Cross, but He also sends the strength to bear it.” Leo Tolstoy