We only have one body. One life. We are told to care for it, to respect it, to live it out the way we want to live.
But sometimes life acts on us. Things out of our control move into our world and spiral it sideways. And we are left with scars. Memories of pain. Physical or otherwise, we are not left the same.
But some scars we choose.
My body is marked by Little Man. It is rubbery in spots, and there are scars from a cesarean and stretch marks and all number of other reminders of his presence within my very self. Outward expressions of how he grew to be my son, first in my heart, then in my body.
Sunshine has marked me in the same way. She has entered my heart, and I carried her there until I met her. And her presence has left marks on my soul. I am changed and morphed into another person. I am pulled and stretched, but the reminders of her presence are not as easily seen. There is no physical evidence on my body that she has changed my very essence.
Now she knows. This is permanent. This is what a mother does for her children: she bears the mark of the carrying. My body is changed for her, and I want everyone to know what has happened in my secret places.
And so I show her how I want to mark her onto myself. Outward expression of what is already known in the heart.
I show her at the airport. I knew she would love that I got a tattoo. I have a surprise, I tell her. And I lift the hem of my dress.
“Oh, really?” she says. “This is beautiful.”
Beautiful, yes. I tell her how it is designed by Stephanie, Sprite’s heart-mother. This woman who came alongside me in this journey and become my companion and my family. This woman who has left her own mark on me. I know that Sunshine does not understand completely my need for community, for connection, in this process of feeling her bloom in my soul. But I know, and Stephanie knows, what that means to a mother-heart, and so that, too, is marked on my body. It had to be designed by her, the other one who is most intimate in this life of loving these children with me. Designed by the friend who has been drawn into my soul as family.
And I tell Sunshine that Stephanie’s favorite flower sits there in the middle, and how that also happens to be the official flower of Sunshine and Sprite’s country. The flower of our children.
And then I tell her to read the letters written there. Slowly, she reads the name of her country. And she smiles. Then she sees what is written on the other side. Her own name.
She looks at me in shock. “What?” she says, “Why you do this??”
I tell her again the story of how she was born to me, born to my soul. I tell her how I wanted her, how I chose her, how I loved her before I even met her. I tell her how she has become my own family, how I am changed body and soul because of her. I tell her that she has marked my life. As much as a child I have carried in my body, I am heart-mother to this girl. I wanted the permanent mark of our becoming to be there for all to see. And her eyes…so wide, so surprised.
“I think…”she starts slowly, and then all in a rush. “I think that this is really stupid. Really. My name? Me? I think that today, yes, okay. But someday, maybe we have conflict and maybe you will hate. You will hate me, and you will look at this and think hate.”
Oh my dear girl. You don’t understand. How could you?
This is exactly why I did it.
Love does not move with the changing of emotion. Love is not affected by conflict, or drink, or bad behavior, or distance, or anything else. This love, it is forever.
And I tell her that maybe yes, someday there will be conflict. Maybe there will be problems. But this does not change who I am. This does not take away this love. Nothing she ever does or ever will do can change what we are to one another, how she has been born into my life. And this mark, with her name and her country, will never go away, no matter how far she is from me physically. Because I won’t let her go. I will carry the marks of her forever.
This is the way love is. I will write on my body what is already written on my soul.