Written in Ink

Written in Ink March 3, 2016

This guest post was written by Katie O’Connell.


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 up, 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 this restaurant, I didn’t care what they served. I was impatient and hungry.

Tables were available. Delicious smells greeted us. Our moods lightened as we agreed on appetizers. As the waitress took our order, I noticed something scribbled on the inside of her arm. It peeked out from her short sleeve. I struggled to read it. 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 I digested the message. I felt my annoyance over the restaurant search leak out of me. Despite my best efforts to stay mindful lately, I’d struggled with too much hurrying and not enough being. The restaurant roared around me, but this moment gave me pause.

“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 it.

I don’t generally comment on tattoos or piercings, yet this was so beautifully unexpected. Its simple message moved and intrigued me.

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

She explained her desire for it to be “just right,” her lengthy search for the artist, and her praise for his work. 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 from a card my grandfather 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 in a card, but she chose to send them back out in the world. Her Grandfather gave his blessing to her. Now she shared it. 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 felt my connection to the much deeper story. It powerfully surrounds me in every moment. I only need to pay attention. It can be unexpected, like the surprising 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.


Katie O'ConnellAbout Katie O’Connell
Katie O’Connell worked for years in education and publishing before pausing her professional life to raise her children. She is a contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and has published works in Sasee magazine and various websites. She believes in the healing power of the written word and its ability to connect us to our most true, honest selves. Find her online at heartwiredwriting.com.

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