Make Me Stronger

A call to action. A cry for help. An opportunity for you to realize your power to give strength to someone affected by a blood cancer (Leukemia, Lymphoma, and Myeloma). Get involved. Make someone stronger.

it is written


Dedicated to her squad and the perfect accessory

Summer of 2012

Some people find comfort in their beliefs during difficult times. Others question them because they don’t provide the comfort they had hoped. I really hoped to be the former but I wasn’t taking any chances.

I wanted a permanent reminder if and when that day came, that things are exactly how they are meant to be. With the hope that I would find comfort in this reminder even in the most questionable of moments. And so I began the search for the perfect word or phrase for my permanent reminder, a tattoo.

I knew I wanted it on my left hand, on the inside of my middle finger, facing me. A place that would accidentally catch my glimpse several times in a day, a place that I could easily see with minimal movement in my physically weakest of moments. Even though I have long fingers, it would have to be a word or a short phrase in order to fit.

Starting with the obvious choices – destiny or fate.

Destiny felt a little too cliché and fate didn’t give me the feeling I was seeking. Both lacking the conviction I was looking for.

“Things are exactly how they’re supposed to be” is the meaning and feel I wanted but that was way too long, no matter how small the font. I even entertained the idea of an acronym, TEHTSTB. There was no working with that, no matter how hard I tried.

Never mind that at a quick glance, it looks like THE BEST to me because I am mildly dyslexic sometimes. If you know me well, you can hear me laughing out loud in your head right now.

“Meant to be” was close but didn’t sound like a phrase as much as part of a sentence where the rest was missing.

This was much harder than I thought.

I’m normally an impulsive person when it comes to these kind of things. Idea, Feels Right, Do It! Or in this case, Get It.

I needed some help, so I did what I normally do – picked up the phone and called my brother. Told him about this permanent reminder I wanted on my body and why. Explaining that if that day ever came where I needed help in accepting the situation, this will be it. It will be my peace and ground my fears if ever needed. It will be my strength and hopefully his as well.

We didn’t know what the tattoo would be, but we planned for him to come with me when I get it. That contentment was enough to keep me distracted from my disappointment in the delay.

The search continued.

I was open to other languages, even a symbol, as long as when I saw it, it triggered the comfort and faith I wanted it to. I enlisted the help of close friends as well. Bounced ideas off of them but nothing was sticking.

Then kismet came up. Interesting. It was different and not commonly used. I loved the uniqueness of the word. It sounded cosmic to me, whatever that means! This may be it…

I marinated on it for a while. Wrote it down on a piece of paper and kept it in my pocket for a few days. Periodically peeking at it, hoping one of those glances it would feel right.

But it didn’t.  Sigh

I revisited some of the earlier ideas with the hopes that I had overlooked the right word or phrase, just needing to hear other ideas before realizing it was the right one.

Meanwhile, one of my closest friends, surprised me with an impromptu ticket to visit them in NC. A getaway was just what I needed and some QT time with two of my favorite people, even better! The guy is one of the most caring, loving and sentimental people I know. I don’t have any kids but I do have someone who calls me Mommy with the same love, and annoys me like a child too. That’s Sunnu. His wife, well that was love at first sight in many ways, one of which was a mutual dance appreciation. To the world she’s Priya, but to me she’s Bunns.

My first night there, we went out for dinner and were waiting to be seated. As we were catching up, I shared with them the search I’ve been on for this tattoo. When I think creativity, heart and impact, Sunnu comes to mind. Not sure how I didn’t think to loop him in sooner. The brainstorming begins. We start going back and forth, some ideas I had already ruled out. Then, Bunns mentions “likha hua hai”.

Sunnu points to Bunns and nods, I smile.

If you have watched hindi films, as I have, you’ve probably heard this phrase before. There is an association with hearing these words and an instant translation. At least for me there was.

Likha hua hai – It is written

It felt traditional instead of cliché – from my roots, the same roots where my beliefs stem from. It had a conviction that made me feel at peace with a hug of security.

It is written

The search was finally over. Or so I thought…

I returned to NY, well rested from all the pampering I received in NC that weekend and was ready to get my permanent reminder. I called a few places to make an appointment, but it turned out getting a finger tattoo wasn’t as easy as I thought. Not many places did them and the ones that did, didn’t guarantee the results. Add to that, this is a phrase and not a letter or short word, it was close to impossible to find a place that would agree to do it. I visited over 10 shops, spoke to several artists and they all recommended I pick another spot for my tattoo.

I was so disappointed. I was so focused on finding the right word or phrase that it didn’t occur to me that I might need to think of a different location for my permanent reminder. Sigh

There were a lot of good suggestions for where else to put it, but nothing felt right. And now that I had the perfect phrase, settling on the location would have made it feel tainted.

Over the next few months, I continued to contemplate the right location. I did a lot of silly little things to test them out. Big surprise!

Unfortunately, during this time, my health issues progressed. I got pneumonia and my risk for infection had increased significantly – my doctor told me I had to put my tattoo idea on hold.

During this “hold” time, one of my best friends and soul sister surprised me with a gift. A ring engraved with “it is written” in such a way that it sits on my middle finger, close to where I wanted my tattoo. Perfection.

I slipped it on and immediately felt complete. As if it was a piece of me I had lost and now found. Armed with the protection I had been seeking for months, I felt safe. I was happy – the Pharell kind of Happy.

Over the next few months, things progressed with my health and each time I found comfort in my ring.

Wearing it every day, it imprinted on me much deeper than a tattoo. The meaning engraved in my mind and heart as it was in the ring. It reminds me of the journey of finding the phrase and those who joined me for the ride. It reminds me that I’m not alone. It reminds me of my soul sister who knew me so well and how she’s with me even though she’s no longer here.

I’ve admittedly also had a few days since then that I was actually thankful that this reminder wasn’t permanently marked on my body. The belief and notion was so appropriate for myself, but when it comes to those I love, not so easy to apply and I was thankful that I could take my ring off on those days.

Health wise, I haven’t recovered since my bout with pneumonia 3 ½ years ago. My risk for infection continued to increase and my counts continued to decrease. That hold on my tattoo idea became permanent.

I guess getting that tattoo wasn’t written for me. The irony makes me shake my head and smile.

Although the road has been tough, we have had some lucky breaks along the way. Constantly re-gauging our hopes is what makes those moments apparent. And every time one of those pleasant little surprises occur, my brother would say to me, “it is written.” Slowly and subtly giving the phrase a dual meaning. Another tone, another implication. What started off as a precaution to help me through the worst of days, my brother uses as a hopeful and loving reminder on a good day.

This Christmas my dad wrote me the sweetest of cards, a wordsmith in his own right. In this card he tells me “it is not written yet”, saying so much with those words…

And so I say, if it’s not written yet, maybe, just maybe, I can write it…


Related Posts:
Letter to My Cancer
Amazing. Priceless. Blessed.


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