|Photograph by Leslie Gartrell|
This was the moment it became real for me. We were all sitting around with friends in the roof garden, drinking sangria and eating pot luck gourmet. Within the easy overlapping conversations, someone mentioned Jim's tattoos. Leslie, his wife, reflected that he had had only three when she met him, and while they were married she had sat for countless hours watching him get inked with countless more. Did you know what each one meant, someone asked. She did. She explained a few of them, the symbols of bands that he had avidly followed. Down at the other end of the roof garden, our teenage children sat together around a table, talking intently. Over their heads, a beach ball sun lowered itself into the Hudson River, a bleeding glory of orange light. We all fell silent for a moment, looking at the sun making haloes around our children, our hearts full at the sight of them, there for one another after all these years. After a while, Leslie noted softly, "All those tattoos are gone now." That was the moment I let it in.