Blessings, Grief and Loss

Written in Ink

We rushed into the restaurant, cold wind blowing behind us as we pushed through the glass doors. This would be our third attempt. We’d stopped at two other restaurants: one where the smiling hostess predicted an hour wait, the other with such a packed lobby we didn’t bother asking. I wrestled with my impatience. Tonight my youngest daughter was in charge. All day she’d listened to her older sister’s growing excitement for sleepover plans with friends. To cheer her, we offered to dine at the restaurant of her choosing. The long wait times, however, rapidly sucked the fun out of everything. By the time we walked into the third restaurant, I didn’t care what they served. I was impatient and hungry.

Warm, delicious smells greeted us. Tables were available. Our moods lightened as we agreed on appetizers. While the young waitress efficiently tapped our order into her computer, my eye caught something scribbled on the inside of her arm. It peeked out from her short sleeve. I struggled to read it despite her quick movements. Then she turned slightly and it came into view.

God Bless You.

Inked on the inside of her arm in an unusual scrawl–God Bless You. My breath caught as the message landed with a thud in my heart. I’d promised myself to stay mindful over the holiday season–enjoy and be grateful in each moment–yet I’d struggled with too much hurrying and not enough being. My patience had worn thin. As I digested those three little words, I felt my annoyance over the night’s restaurant search seep out of me. God Bless You was the message my heart needed to hear.

“I like your tattoo,” I said. Her brown eyes showed surprise, then warmed.

“Really? Thank You! It’s new. I just got it a few weeks ago,” she responded, glancing at her arm.

I don’t generally comment on personal things like tattoos or piercings, yet this was so unexpected. Its simple message intrigued me.

“It’s beautiful. Where did you have it done?” I asked, hoping to understand why it compelled me.

She explained the involved process and the multiple tattoo artists she’d reviewed. It had to be “just right” and that search took time. She praised the artist, offering his name and address. I sensed how much this meant to her. In a rootless, rapid-fire world, tattooing represents something meaningful and lasting. A permanent, personal marking in a transient world.

She seemed receptive, so I carefully asked the backstory. I could see my question open a door.

“It’s for my grandfather. It’s from a card he sent me.” She looked away for a second, paused, then continued. “My mom didn’t want me to get it, but I really wanted it. Once she saw it, she felt better. It’s just the way he wrote it. That’s his handwriting.”

She gazed at it again, ran her hand over it tenderly, and added, “He died in April.”

I felt the pain mix with pride as she looked at it. Suddenly I realized the words weren’t positioned for her to read. They were oriented for others. He may have written the words to her, but she chose to send them back out in the world for everyone to read. Her Grandfather gave his blessing. Now she shared it. An example of grief and loss transformed into a blessing bestowed to anyone who noticed.

God Bless You.

More customers entered. She had things to do, orders to take, food to deliver. I had tears to hold back, loved ones to dine with, laughter and conversation to enjoy.

I felt blessed. Truly blessed. Once again I embraced my connection to the much deeper story that threads through our souls. It powerfully surrounds me in every moment. I only need to pay attention. It still surprises me, like the unexpected blessing inked across a waitress’s arm. Yet it is ever present. Love encircles us everywhere. I am blessed. You are blessed. We can be that for each other.

God Bless You.



9 thoughts on “Written in Ink”

  1. Jan Glas says:

    Thank you, Katie, for the extension of the blessing.

  2. Katie O'Connell says:

    For the time being, you can follow me by liking my facebook page, Heartwired Writing. I’ll keep you posted on changes… 🙂

  3. Chip says:

    That was great a beautiful glimpse of what makes life so special if we take our time to live

  4. Becky says:

    Katie, You expressed your experience so beautifully….and thus sent me ablessing…..thank you cuz…I needed to hear this…..

  5. Lisa says:

    love this…

  6. therese says:

    Love the slant of how she placed the tattoo facing and blessing others. Her grandpa lives on!

  7. Julie says:

    Katie, I have to finally write and thank you for such a beautiful article. You wrote this about my daughter, and my dad is the one with the unique handwriting now inked on her arm. I hadn’t really wanted her to get a tattoo, she’s only 18, and I wanted her to be a bit older before making such a permanent decision. But two things happened when I read your article – I realized that she had chosen, intentionally, to have the blessing go out to others, something my dad would love. And that the message may impact others, even if just for a moment, which it did for you that evening. That’s pretty powerful. She’s an amazing kid, and was so honored and flattered by your words about her story. As a parent, having your child affect others in a positive way is one of life’s greatest blessing – so thank you again!

    1. Katie O'Connell says:

      Thank you so much, Julie! It truly stopped me in my tracks that day (I was NOT in a good mood when I arrived!) and I knew I needed to write about it. You should know the story has resonated with many others as well. It was picked up by another online site:
      and continues to send more blessings forth! So, Julie, your last sentence is very true. “Having a child affect others in a positive way is one of life’s greatest blessings.” I agree wholeheartedly! Thanks for the opportunity to send your father’s blessing forth into the world. We need those magical moments now more than ever!

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