Dear Dan,

So I got this tattoo last Christmas eve. I know. I know. It’s going to be on my arm forever. That’s the whole point.

I got a semicolon. A semicolon is used when a writer could have ended the sentence, but chose to pause, and continue on. You are the author and the sentence is your life. Danny boy, you put a period on your sentence. The tattoo is to remind me of you. Like I’m going to forget? Not likely.


I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety all my life. The tattoo also reminds me of what suicide does to the ones left behind.

As a kid, whenever something “tragic” would happen to me at school, I’d remember back several years before and tell myself that I got through that; I’d get through this. What happened to make me think, at 12 years old, that my life was over wasn’t nearly as devastating when I was 16. At 20, what happened when I was 16 didn’t shake my world any longer. That thing that happened at 12 wasn’t even on the Richter scale. Every time I think that I can’t continue, I remember the lessons of my adolescence and know that tomorrow, the pain will ease just a bit. The day after, it’ll be just a slight bit better than the day before.

The semicolon reminds me of that as well. Life is a story; don’t put a period on your story. It’s to be continued. The grammarian in me would have preferred the symbol be an ellipse, but …

A semicolon symbolizes solidarity with people who share the same struggles. The tattoo artist that did mine has done a number of them. Even though I have not seen anyone else with a similar tattoo, I know they are out there.

But the best thing? The very best — our brother lives across the street from where I got the tattoo. It was such a lovely warm day; he was sitting outside and saw me when I exited the shop. I walked over and he said, “Got a tattoo, did ya? Nik has a lot of tattoos.”

I told him what I got (it was still covered until I could get the recommended salve) and he gave me a quizzical look. I told him, “Yes. It shows my deep commitment to the use of proper punctuation.”

I heard you laugh.

I love you and miss you.

3 thoughts on “Tattoo

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  1. Cathey I think of Dan so often as does my entire family! He was one of ours and we loved him beyond measure. We just found out we are having our first grandbaby and I know Dan would have taken video and photos of every moment of our joy! When I concentrate I can still hear him laugh in my head and I now he and my mom (Maba) are having a celebration in Heaven over our good news. I find it hard to consider how bad he must have felt to not only consider but carry out his plan. It haunts all of us who so loved him spoke with him often enough that we wonder why we were not able to see the pain and help him…it will always be my deepest sadness. I so admire your frankness and sharing in these posts. love, Nan

  2. Dan was a master at covering his feelings. No one knew. Not even the people who saw him daily. We didn’t see because he didn’t want us to see.

    I know he is so happy about the baby! Congratulations!!! I wish Dan could be here to hold her after she arrives. Dan and your mom will be there for the birth, you can be sure.

    I’m betting when y’all hear her laughing when there’s no one in her room, your mom and Dan will be visiting.

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