Photos by Lucy Morantz
As junior Sophia Scarlett sits upright on the black cushioned chair, she plays on her phone while patiently waiting for the tattoo to be completed that will forever pay tribute to a loved one.
When Scarlett was two years old, her dad was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. By the time she was 10, Scarlett’s dad had passed away.
“I had a lot of pride in what I was doing, being able to endure pain so that I could have my own tribute to him forever,” Scarlett said. “The pain of the tattoo was nothing in comparison to the pain of losing him and living without him.”
While people diagnosed with ALS only tend to live for five years after their diagnosis, Scarlett’s dad lived for eight.
“I guess truly I have always seen him as my rock, backbone, and overall my inspiration,” Scarlett said. “And I’ve always thought of him as the strongest man I have ever known.”
After coming to the realization that her dad was going to pass, Scarlett began considering getting a tattoo to honor him. She finally put the plan into action two days after school started, inking the design into her skin she had been planning for three weeks.
“I have always know what I’ve wanted to get,” Scarlett said. “It’s two elephants with connecting trucks, where the small elephant represents me and the bigger represents my dad.”
Within the tattoo, the two elephants are printed with watercolors of purple, green, yellow, pink and orange and dated 12.17.68, the day her father was born and 12.9.2016, the day he passed away.
“Rather than looking at it with dark colors and feeling the sadness and grief,” Scarlett said.“I wanted to look at brighter colors to remind me of all the good memories.”
Today, through her tattoo, Scarlett is reminded of her dad and the strong connection that she will hold with him throughout the rest of her life.