Tattoos & Small Green Tomatoes

Sarah McMahon
4 min readMay 19, 2024

One week in early May I had Lasik done, my vision going from -800 to 20/20 in a matter of seconds. Before I walked into the operating room, an attendant asked me if I was nervous. Because they had given be a Xanax twenty minutes prior, I smiled drowsily and said, “noo-ooo-oooo maybe just only a little.” After the procedure, I slept for approximately 15 hours, woke up, and drove to a tattoo appointment, where my favorite tattoo artist inked a skeleton hand holding an iris onto my outer right forearm.

I didn’t choose the skeleton hand holding an iris for any specific reason. My grandfather is dying, and my sister-in-law just had a baby and its sort of smacking me in the face lately how death and birth aren’t that far apart. If the cycle of life were a drawing, it wouldn’t be a straight line, it would be a circle. Since death is at the very end and birth is at the very beginning, we’re all starting and stopping in basically the same spot. You knew this already, whether you wanted to or not.

The reason I was thinking about all this is because after I got my tattoo, a woman stopped me in the grocery store in the produce section next to a pile of green tomatoes.

“It’s beautiful,” she said, looking first at my tattoo and then looking me straight in the eyes. You can really tell people mean what they say when they look you in the eyes. I read…