The meaning of my tattoo

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about life. I am not saying this to sound deep. I am many things, but I am not deep. I say many things, and few of them are deep. I have many thoughts, and most are shallower than a puddle of Kool-Aid in a desert.

I think about life because it is the name of the magazine section that I will be editing for another week. I think about life because, in another few weeks, I will be giving it. Most of all I think about it because the person who gave me life is clinging to hers, and I hope that my willing it means my mom will cling for long enough to see her eleventh grandchild.

You can probably tell that the approach of Mother’s Day this year is making me a bit wobbly. Yesterday, the obstetrician asked how I was doing, and I burst out crying. I tried to bail on the spa-and-brunch day my sisters are organizing because I couldn’t handle the logistics.

Way back in one of the dinosaur eras, when I graduated from college, I got a very small tattoo of a Japanese character. Today I see kanji on the napes and biceps of all manner of non-Asians, but back then, the Indian dude in the second-floor Chinatown tattoo parlor had to peer carefully at the character I’d written out. As a result, the calligraphy kind of sucks. I’m not at all sure why I chose it, but the character is translated as life. If I thought more about it, it might have occurred to me that it could be interpreted as some sort of tacit support for the anti-abortion movement. It’s not even an attractive character. It looks like a house with a slanty roof and a broken front door.

I’ve got nothing particularly deep to add to this story, except to say happy Mother’s Day, friends. We’re here because someone bothered to give us life. You can’t return the favor, at least not to her. But you could pony up a box of See’s.

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