“Oh! I love dragonflies! They do my two favorite things at the same time…f*#king and flying,” said the mother of my (then) boyfriend as we sat on the beach of Leech Lake, watching two dragonflies cruise by. Leech Lake is named after a John Leech – it’s not filled with leeches. I looked at her and thought, “I’m gonna marry your son.”
It’s been 22 years since the tragic death of my mother-in-law, Kitty. She and her fiancé were killed when a semi ran a red light. I don’t know, do we grieve differently when it’s shocking like that?
The year after Kitty died, I felt the strong need to do a ceremony of some sort, and decided to get a tattoo in her honor. She had a tattoo on her right arm – she wanted to show that she was cool in case she was ever infirmed and couldn’t speak. Kitty was a hospice nurse – her obit read “The Mother of Hospice in Minnesota Killed in Accident.” She didn’t really want to die in hospice care, but I don’t think she really wanted to go out in the style she did.
In the tattoo shop I sat in the waiting room, looking at pictures of tattoos. I really didn’t know what I wanted, or where on my body I was going to get it – I hadn’t thought it out that far. Then I saw the dragonfly and thought, “That’s it! Perfect!” Kore, the tattoo artist, was ready for me, and said, “Have you decided where you want it?” And without even thinking, I said, “Above my left breast.” Kore says, “Oh, that’s one of the acupuncture points for grief,” without knowing why I was getting the tattoo. So I don’t know if that was bullshit or what, but I did it and still love the tattoo. I think of Kitty whenever I look at it, and about f*#king and flying.