On Friday, May 2nd I finally got my memorial tattoo for my childhood friend, Nikki. She passed away in July 2004 from a rare form of ovarian cancer. She was 32. She left behind a wonderful husband, her parents, her brother and his wife and two identical twin nieces. And a host of friends and relatives too.
Ten years ago this weekend … I had my tonsils out and my adenoids. Also I had my deviated septum fixed to help out my sleep apnea. I had also just been diagnosed with having sleep apnea in April of 2004.
It was during this weekend I was at my mom’s house recovering that I got a surprise visit from my friend Nikki. I still do not know how she had the strength to drive from Sioux City, Iowa to my mom’s in Springfield, SD … but she made the goodbye trip solo.
When she appeared at the doorstep, I saw my friend but it really wasn’t my friend standing before me. It was just an image of her. She was in her final stages of life and the cancer was destroying her. We visited for what seemed like hours but it was only maybe 30 minutes. I was recovering from my surgeries and doped up on pain meds but I still clearly remember everything about our last visit together.
At the door, as she was leaving… I mustered out an “I love you.” ….She turned and smiled and nodded. That was the very last time I saw my friend as a living, breathing beautiful human.
Since that day, every time I thought of her, I would see a blue butterfly. I see them all the time.
A few years ago, I had met with her mom and other friends of ours … the topic of blue butterflies came up. Turns out… others see blue butterflies as well. The talk turned to tattoos and how we all should get a memorial tattoo for Nikki.
Finally, I’ve made my promise a reality. Along with my own private demons that I have to deal with on a day-to-day basis … the blue watercolor wash (ink) butterfly I opted for .. simply gorgeous in person. I wanted it in a place where I could literally see it daily — for the rest of MY life… as long as God will allow me to live on this planet.
I’ve kept Nikki in my thoughts and prayers for ten years now… but now, with the visibility of seeing the memorial tattoo I have for her … it will remind me to be brave myself.
In one month I will celebrate my 2nd anniversary of having my lap band surgery. There has been times along my own private journey where I did almost give up. I’ve struggled greatly with my own private terrors… demons from keeping me going forward. Sometimes I feel I don’t want to continue — a lot of things. Sometimes just life in general.
But then, I remember Nikki. She would have wanted to live a long and healthy life. I know her and her husband were wanting children. Unfortunately, God never put me in the path to have children either. I had always wanted them. Children. In my life. As my own. But I have my friends I can rely on for that. Yes, it’s not the same thing but in this lifetime, it will have to do.
I still am trying to figure out my plan that God has for me. Going forward with Nikki’s braveness and her courageous spirit … lifting me higher and higher… I just need to always remember she is still with me. And now I have a blue wonderment on my forearm to keep her even closer.
I have always been way more spiritual than religious. And I keep having to remind myself that there are no rules books to follow to live the life I was given either. More so than anything else, I need to learn how to tame my demons and learn to love freely and without restrictions.
With brave wings she flies … fits perfectly for me, for Nikki.
She was so brave to die amongst her parents and her husband. So courageous to actually leave this earth by herself. She, like me, didn’t like to be alone. She, like me, always wanted to be around people. She was loved dearly. She had the best laugh. Ever. And she, like me, was a very curious soul.
I, and I, alone, need to learn to leave the safety of my own cocoon. And to spread my wings. Freely.