Ted, my step daughter and I were in Costco today. Shortly after we walked in, I noticed a tattoo on a woman's back, between her shoulder blades. It had the name "Emma", baby footprints under it, and then a date in April 2011 under the footprints. My heart started beating faster. My first thought was that it was a memorial tattoo. I walked by the woman and turned to look at her. She looked tired and her eyes looked puffy, but I could have been reading too much into it. There was no baby there with her. She was with a man and he didn't have a baby. I got a closer view of the tattoo and the footprints weren't the size of a full-term baby. Maybe a baby about 7-8 months gestation, but I could be wrong about that.
We walked by them and I told Ted what I saw and that I really wanted to go and say something to her, but would it be weird? He said that he knows that I want to, and I should go and do it. So I did. I never would have done something like this, going and talking to a stranger about something on them, before Jacob died.
So I went back to where I saw them and walked next to her. I said that I noticed her tattoo and that it is really nice. She said thank you. I asked if it was for her daughter and she said yes and said thank you again.
I really wanted to know more. Was the baby alive? Was it a memorial tattoo? I know someone at work who got a similar tattoo (minus the footprints) for her son, who is alive and well. But I felt like this woman might not want to talk about it. Maybe she didn't want to take the chance of breaking down in Costco. Maybe there was nothing to break down about and her baby was home, alive and well with her grandparents.
I just smiled back at her and walked away, hoping they would notice the tattoo on my ankle. They might realize that I've lost a baby too. Did she think about it after and wonder what prompted me to come to her and say that or did she not think about it much at all?
For about half an hour after, I went over what else I could have said. How could I ask about her baby without saying the wrong thing. How do you ask someone if their baby is alive or dead based on their tattoo?
I imagined a stranger coming up to me and commenting on my tattoo. Would I have answered by saying "thank you, it is for my son who passed away"? Probably not, I would have just said thank you and hoped that they asked more.
What would you have done? Would you have asked more? How would you have worded it?