March has always been my month – I was born on March 14th, 1983, I graduated college March 24th, 2012 & got engaged to my best friend and the greatest man I know on March 30th, 2012…
As for March 2013 – I will be turning 30, celebrating our one year engagement & most recently on March 2nd I met my Susan G. Komen fund raising goal of $2,300! And I couldn’t have celebrated with greater people! I was blessed to have met who I now call my good friend Shannon last year at an American Cancer Society event at Brighton where I was for the second year in a row the featured artist. I was in the midst of setting up my paintings when a very enthusiastic Shannon approached me and asked “Are you the painting girl?” As she pointed at some of my paintings that were sitting on the shelf. I of course said, “that’s me.”
At a later date, Shannon and I coordinated a Breasties party at her house in November, where most the women in her family attended. Shannon’s mother Coral was there, her best friends since childhood – Paula and Karen, her sister in-law Mindy, Mindy’s mother (a breast cancer survivor) and two sisters… daughters, granddaughters, moms, aunts, best friends – they were all there! One person that wasn’t there physically BUT for sure was there in HEART & spirit was Shannon’s sister Karen who lost her battle with ovarian cancer in 2011. Shannon told me she lost her sister and her dad to cancer when I met her but I did not learn of her sisters name until March 2nd – my milestone day. That day I scheduled a pick up party at Shannon’s house so everyone could come pick up there paintings and see the collection in person. It was a perfect day – Everyone loved their paintings, I talked about Breasties next big ventures and once again I believe Shannon’s sister was there with us. After everyone left, Shannon and I were there alone. I had some things to clean up and Shannon and I of course got to talking. It was then that I learned more about Karen, Shannon’s beloved sister.
Talking about the tattoo on my arm – I explained to Shannon that although there is a tiny smidgen of regret attached to the large gold toothed skull on my arm, the tattoo itself wasn’t about me. You see, I believe this tattoo was my first grand expression of human compassion. I was 25 years old when I got it – and still heart stricken by hearing of the loss of my mom’s boss’ (now a very very dear family friend) daughter Erin who was 25 or 26 (forgive me, I have a bad numeric memory) when she passed away after her car veered off the road. I told Shannon as I wrapped my right hand around my tattoo that I had never met Erin but had known of her from her father sharing stories about her with my mom. Erin and I shared the same love for all things Disney and we both loved animals, specifically the Giant Panda’s at the San Diego Zoo. I just could’t swallow the fact that someone so full of life and so young was not on this earth with us anymore. It just didn’t seem fair and it was then that I decided I would do everything in my power to enjoy my life to the fullest for Erin. That’s where the sugar skull came into play – the sugar skull symbolizes the celebration of life after death and celebrating beautiful life passed or present is exactly what I am doing. I pointed out the only blue flower in the midst of my tattoo and said “this one is for Erin, I’ve never met her!” But that little blue forget-me -not is for her because she deserves to be remembered. “I take her with me through life – I take her to see the Pandas,” I think of her as I walk down Main Street at Disneyland and funny enough when I see a horse I think of her too. I am not a horse person but I knew Erin was and because of her I see the beauty in horses that I had never seen before.
After explaining my compassion and connection to Erin, Shannon told me her sisters name for the first time. She said, “well that’s funny because my sisters name is Karen and that rhymes with Erin.” She told me about her sisters famous mustard that she would make for the family during the holidays and even showed me the jar with Karens hand writing on it that read “Spicy jalapeno mustard” It sounds silly, its just a jar to most but to Shannon that little jar that once housed what was made by the hands of her best friend and sister is a little piece of Karen’s love for her family left down here on earth. Shannon and I shared a few more personal moments that I will not share with you because some things are so precious they shall be left un-spoken – But I will say that sharing my milestone day in that moment with Shannon and her loved ones was a BLESSING and I truly believe ‘timing is everything’ – ‘everything happens for a reason’ – and ‘we all come into each others lives with a purpose.’ I am beyond grateful for all the love and support I am provided and only hope that I can continue to provide the same.
With every ounce of my heart – In Memory of Karen & Erin,
Peace, Love & gold toothed tattoo’s
Elisabeth Hope Foreman