The nurse looks at the mans arm. "That's a big tattoo. What does it mean?"
"It's my sons name. He was killed last year. His mother ran him over with the car."
Silence from the nurse and the anaesthetist as they exchange glances. "I'm so sorry to hear that, "says the anaesthetist. "There's not much you can say to that."
"We're divorced now. I still have a daughter, I see her every other weekend."
Later in the operating theatre the tattoo was discussed. Apparently the man, *Bill, had had a similar conversation with his surgeon a few weeks ago. Last year Bills wife had been reversing the car in the driveway and hadn't realised that their son was playing behind the car. The tattoo starts at Bills elbow and takes up two thirds of his inner arm. It's startling obvious. Some felt it was a touching tribute to his three year old son. Some felt it was too big. Another felt it was morbid.
What do I think? I think it's sad that his marriage hadn't survived what had been a tragic accident. I think it's heartbreaking that neither of these parents are going to be able to get past this. I wonder if the mother will ever be able to forgive herself. I wonder if the father will ever forgive the mother. It's a tragedy that their surviving child has lost not only her brother but her family unit as well. I understand Bills need to remember his son and mark his passing but I also wonder if getting such a large and conspicuous tattoo in such a prominent place was the best way to do it. Every time someone says, "that's an unusual name, who is it?" he tells that story. He has to go through that pain every day of his life. I think he's punishing himself with that tattoo.