The first two months after Joel, my 18 year old son died, I spent most days sitting on the couch staring at the television. I came across a show about people getting tattoos for lots of reasons, including memorial tattoos. As I watched the show regularly, the thought formulated in my mind that I would like to get one eventually as a memorial for Joel.
I learned of a special spot at Frozen Head State Park when one of Tony’s friends shared a memory with me. She said they had frequently hiked there with friends, and one day Tony carved his nickname into the handrail of a bridge on a trail.
I became obsessed with finding that bridge and seeing the carving with my own eyes. And finally, after numerous hikes, I spotted yet another bridge. I hurried to this one, inspecting the handrails, as I always did, scanning it for the T-Dawg carving, This time, I found the very bridge that Tony had stood on with his friends. I ran my fingers over the slightly faded carving, feeling my spiritual connection to him.
How fitting that his mark was on a bridge. A Dictionary of Symbols indicates, “The bridge symbolizes the link between what can be perceived and what is beyond perception. Even when it lacks this mystic sense, the bridge is always symbolic of a transition from one state to another–of change, or the desire for change.”
A dear friend said of this definition, “Somehow, this describes your new relationship to Tony, who for you now exists in nature, which you can perceive through your senses, even though you cannot actually perceive Tony as he once was.” He went on to say, “It symbolizes both Tony’s transition to another state and your own transition as you come to terms with his new mode of being.”
I added my own carved inscription to Tony’s, adding my mark to connect us always, “MAMA.”
And so I name this Frozen Head State Park bridge, Tony’s Bridge, always to be my transitional link between what was and what is now.
Originally posted on Debra’s memorial site: www.clint-reagan.memory-of.com
In the beginning, it mattered to me the hows and whys of Clint’s death. My heart and my head argued. My heart keep saying, “He can’t be gone, we still have so much love to give him.” In a strange unfair twist, this love was even greater because it was not hindered with all the stress and chaos involved with dealing with someone struggling with mental illness and drug addiction. This wasn’t fair. I became angry. I had done everything I thought was right. I had been a stay at home mom up until middle school. We were an intact family. Clint had experienced some privileges in his life. We were there for him every step of the way. We tried to handle what we knew and what we understood.
Three. The Triad—heaven-human-earth; past-present-future—the number three is significant as a prime number in mathematics, the spatial dimensions of science, the Holy Trinity of Christianity. For me, the number three represents the third day in October of my son’s birth and the third anniversary of his death. And it also became a gift.