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Survival Sunday - The Semicolon

I don’t have a tattoo.


What I do have from that dark night is a cross made of nails, on a leather necklace. I was only wearing it because I thought it was cool, to be honest. But the last thing I remember from that night was clutching that cross in desperation, so afraid of what was—or wasn’t—on the other side, while listening to the doctors and nurses screaming around me.

“Gonna try to stop her heart and restart it.”

“Who prescribed her that combination?!”

“Call the family in…she’s not gonna make it.”

It was as if I were a bystander, watching the end of my life as though it were a movie. I was both fascinated and horrified. I was also relieved, that finally the pain would end. The soul-sucking pain of heartache and depression that pulled me under so many times. But I was scared too. Terrified, actually. Then in the blink of an eye, there was nothing but mute darkness.

Forty-eight hours later I woke up in the cardiac care unit. I’d survived, miraculously, from an overdose of prescription pills. I wish I knew where I’d went that forty-eight hours, but I remember nothing. Maybe that’s where I was? Nowhere? I don’t know, but I don’t want to go back there again.

I forced my eyes open to find my family huddled around me. When I saw their faces: anger, relief, disbelief… I was ashamed that I’d almost done it. I’d almost checked out and left them holding the bag—my bag of pain. Left for them to deal with and carry the rest of their lives. That would’ve been a really shitty thing to do.

At that moment, I was glad I’d failed. Because in failure I found another chance. A chance to finish my story…

Which brings me to the tattoo. I love looking at ink, but my body is an empty canvas at the moment. When I’m ready, the first tattoo I’ll get inked is probably going to be one of the new semicolon tattoos that seem to be rising in visibility, in all shapes and forms, with different artwork around it.

The semicolon is popping up everywhere; on ankles, behind ears, wrists and the back of the neck, and when I see it, I know I see a soul sister or brother. Someone who’s faced the darkness that rose up to take them, yet fought it off. Someone who survived to live one more day, and then another and another, in an attempt to not ‘end their story.’

As a writer myself, the mark of the semicolon represents—to me—that the author/wearer of the tattoo chose not to end their story that dark night, even though they thought about, or maybe even tried. But in the end, they chose to continue their sentence… their life. Thus, the semicolon.

I try to reach out to the people I see wearing this mark, if the opportunity arises. It’s nice to know I’m not alone, and I’ve made several friends like this. When the dark reaches up for me again, or I fall into what I call ‘the river,’ I have reached out to these survivors to get me through.

If you’re one too, look around. Watch for this mark. Reach out.

I’m happy I survived to continue my own story. I will continue to write my happily ever after… and hopefully soon, I’ll be taking a trip to Ohio for Clint Kiehl to ink this tattoo onto me, just to remind me.

~Lisa Akers