Thomas Resch, a 21-year-old from Marysville, Washington, has tattoos covering both of his arms, and all them have a deep meaning: He has a Bible verse for his guardian angel, Legos connecting to each other to represent the bond among him and his three brothers, and a lion that symbolizes strength, among others. His newest tattoo might have the deepest meaning of all — it’s for his mom, Deborah, and she’s the one who helped design it.
The tattoo reads, “I’m going to miss you A LOT!! I love you pic, mom,” in small, scrawly handwriting, along with a drawing of an electrocardiogram (EKG). Deborah was just 50 years old passed away on January 13 after suffering cardiac arrest. On the day she died, which was also the day Thomas moved out of her house, Deborah had written her son the sweet message. “Before I left, my mom slipped a note into one of my bags,” Thomas says. “I saw the note after she passed [and] it really touched me, especially with what she wrote.” The word “pic” is short for pickle, which is the nickname Deborah had for Thomas ever since he was a young child.
The fact that the tattoo was done in Deborah’s handwriting is important to Thomas. A few months ago, Deborah had suffered her first cardiac arrest. She recovered, but had lost some abilities in her hands, and had to go to rehab to learn to write again. “When I was a kid, and all of growing up, my mom always prided herself of her handwriting,” says Thomas. “I could always remember her having the best handwriting I’ve ever seen in my life.” The fact that Deborah was able to write again was a big deal to her son.
The idea for the image of her EKG also holds a special meaning. Thomas has been training to be a bodybuilder for the past four years, and he and his mom both wore Fitbits. “We would always say we were Fitbit buddies,” says Thomas, who has started a GoFundMe to help his dad pay for medical bills and funeral expenses. When Deborah passed, she was wearing her Fitbit, and Thomas remembered it tracks heart activity. He downloaded the last recording of her EKG from the Fitbit, and sent it to himself. “I had my tattoo artist copy the words with all the imperfections, because you can see how hard she tried to write that note to me, so it means the world to me,” says Thomas. “[It’s] that personal message I can keep close to my heart, as well as her last heartbeats,” he says.
Although this year began with sadness for Thomas, he does have sunshine in his future — he’s expecting his first child in June. “It breaks my heart she won’t be there, but I know In my heart she’ll be watching over us the whole time,” he says.
Deborah might not be around to see Thomas’ bodybuilding career, or the birth of his first child, but her memory keeps him inspired to be his best. “I’m still going to keep pushing and pursuing my dream because even though she isn’t here, I know she wouldn’t want me to give up.”