Julie McGregor

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.

Naturally a tattoo is pretty permanent, so it took a lot of thought as to what it might be. After four years I was ready for my tattoo which has the wording ‘Joel, I see you in every picture, I hear you in every song’ – along with a butterfly.

McGregor-I see you in every picture

How true those words are for me. Joel loved his music and we related to so much of the same. I had already changed my radio station in the car to one with a younger audience, as a reminder of the love of music Joel had. I listen to many new songs, thinking Joel would have really related to that one or another. I feel close to him, remembering the times it was just the two of us in the car and we cranked up the music and sang along.

Everywhere I drive around home, there are reminders of Joel – where he worked, went to school, roads we drove on together. Every time I see a movie I think he would have liked, I imagine him sitting beside me (we shared numerous movies even as he was older).

Recently I was swimming in the ocean. It was a beautiful day and as I floated on the water I was reminded of the days when my three boys were young and we would go to the beach. They would all challenge me to go deeper, ducking and jumping as the waves rolled in. They were fun, innocent, carefree days before our family changed forever. Like my other two boys, Joel just loved the beach and did get frustrated at how careful he needed to be, considering his red hair and fair skin.

Every time I see a red-headed boy around the same age as Joel was, or would be now, I see Joel, and wonder about the person he would have grown to be. We had just attended the annual Compassionate Friends ‘Walk to Remember’ a couple of days ago when we had coffee at the shop in the park. At the table right next to us was a young man, red-headed and with a red beard, who would have been about the age Joel would be now. He very obligingly took our photo when we asked and gave us a big smile. I didn’t even think at the time, being deep in thought about the recent walk, but later it struck me – this was another sign from Joel that he indeed is still with us, and yes, he is in every picture and every song, whether in memory or signs.

In memory of my beautiful son Joel, 10-10-88 – 19-08-2007


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