In early January of this year, as winter break was coming to a close, I met up with a friend to take our daughters to see the Disney film MOANA. I absolutely adored Moana’s grandmother, who affectionately referred to herself as “the village crazy lady” and had a beautiful tattoo of a giant sting ray spread across and down her back. Talk about goals! When I grow up, I hope I’m half as cool and comfortable in my own skin.
SPOILER ALERT: It’s been a long time since the movie was released, but to be fair, if you haven’t seen Moana yet, you may not want to keep reading.
OK, you’ve been warned.
When Moana’s grandmother dies it’s sad – of course it is – and of course I shed a few tears. But objectively, from a plot perspective, I understand. This is a necessary part of the hero’s journey. The passing of her grandmother forces Moana into action, spurs her forward. It is later in the film, when Moana is in her dark moment and has lost all hope – alone on the vast empty sea in the dead of night, unsure of how to go on – and the spirit of her grandmother visits her, first appearing as a majestic, dazzling sting ray, sweeping through the water, guiding the way…that’s when I really lose my emotional sh*t. The refrain Moana sings in this scene makes my heart do the squishy joy-sorrow thing and I turn into a sobbing mess.
I saw Moana on a Tuesday morning, and all through the movie I kept thinking of a friend who’d been struggling in a long battle with breast cancer that had recently taken a turn for the worse. She was an amazing person who I’d gotten to know better over the last few years, growing closer as our daughters became friends. She was a wife, a mother of two, a teacher, a phenomenal singer, a woman of incredible strength and unwavering faith. Her life and her journey affected many, many people and against all logic and reason, I continued to believe a miracle could come – would come – at any moment. But it was not to be. The very next day, on Wednesday morning, I received the news she’d passed away during the night. I imagined her, with her brilliant spirit and beautiful voice, becoming a bird – soft yet strong, singing a song that filled people with happiness, her melodies bringing all who listened a sense of peace.
When you’ve lost someone close, there are moments when you know – just know deep inside – they are there with you still. For me, after my dad passed away, whenever I saw a cardinal, I thought of him. He used to love to make cardinal bird call sounds and would “talk” to them, waiting patiently for me to locate the flash of red in the treetops he’d spotted long before they returned his calls with brilliant trills. Recently, I learned that for many people, cardinals are a sign of a loved one saying hello. I had no idea this little red bird held such significance for others besides myself. I do wonder what kind of tattoo my dad would have had were he to choose one – what he would have come back as – and I think a cardinal fits perfectly. He did love to fly, achieving his dream when he earned his pilot’s license.
If I had to choose a tattoo that represented what I would come back as, I think it would be a unicorn. From as far back as I can remember, I’ve always loved unicorns, a favorite childhood book was Morgan Mine and I adored the movie The Last Unicorn (still do). On a regular basis, my children refer to me as a “magical unicorn” and I like what the image of a unicorn represents: a free and independent creature that lives with no regrets, who seeks adventure and only shows her true self to those with loyal hearts – those who have faith. So yes, if I could choose what form my spirit takes after I go – what I’d come back as – it would be a unicorn.
Which is why that’s the kind of tattoo I’d get.
How about you? I’d love to know what you’d pick, let me know HERE.
NOTE: When someone you know dies, being there for the loved ones left behind is important, but sometimes it can be hard to know what to do – here are ways to really help.