I was lying in the hospital bed, pumped full of pain medications on December 23rd: the day after losing him, when my husband said, “I want to get a tattoo of his name.” I was a little surprised. Over the years, my husband and I have not spent very much time arguing. The one topic that has caused some struggle is tattoos. I like them. He hates them. I want more of them. He thinks they’d ruin my skin. He always told me that he could never imagine anything important enough to put on his skin forever. But there he was, lying on a stiff hospital couch, with his mind made up. Lincoln was important enough. We went in for his tattoo just one week after leaving the hospital. I was on antibiotics, and my body was weak, so my tattoo would wait. He was nervous. He’d chosen a large area for his first tattoo; and he toughed it out. Our artist listened carefully to what we needed: to what had happened. He sketched, and they were beautiful. I returned for mine the following week. I wanted his life marked on me, where everyone could see. My body had already changed for him, but my scar and my stretch marks would always be hidden beneath my clothes. He has changed me in so many ways. I wanted a physical representation. I needed visual reminders. Lincoln would always be in my heart, but I wanted him visible to the world around me.
“Because someone we love is in Heaven, there’s a little bit of Heaven in our home.”-author unknown
The tattoos were just the beginning. I brought home a tiny tuft of Lincoln’s hair. The nurse placed it in a piece of gauze for me. If I could go back and say one thing to that nurse, I would thank her for thinking of getting his hair for me. At the time, it didn’t occur to me to ask. But that tiny piece of hair, now lives in a locket that I wear around my neck. It’s the only physical part of my baby that I got to keep. I would also thank that nurse for how carefully she handled his newborn outfit. When I sent Lincoln back with her, she brought that outfit back to us, in exactly the way he had worn it. It was too big. He was such a tiny newborn. We had to roll up the pant legs. For months, I had this outfit delicately laid out. I touched it. I hugged it. I waited until I was ready. We put it in a shadow box after four months. The box hangs in our dining room.
At the funeral home, I picked out necklaces with his tiny prints on them. I got one with his footprint, and one with his tiny handprint. I’m so grateful to have both. I was trying to choose between them, when my mom told me that she could see I needed both. She would get them for me. Don’t choose. Get both. So I did. One tiny footprint. One tiny handprint. We also put two of our favorite pictures on canvases. They hang in our entryway: one of the first things you see when you walk into our home. We also have photo albums and my pregnancy memory book. These are just things, but they are important. They tell his story. They help me share him. I’ll never forget him, but these things remind others of how real he is.