Dads are known for their general willingness to do just about anything for their kids; they will smash spiders, build crazy forts and take on the mantle of anything from a robber to Duchess Fluffybuns to join in with their kids’ rounds of pretend play. Dads are pretty awesome.
One dad, though, is taking the concept of awesome to an entirely new level with a tattoo that’s tugging on the collective heartstrings of the entire internet: It’s a tattoo he got to show a little solidarity with his 8-year-old son.
Why? Well, the Kansas-based father and son pair — Gabriel and Josh Marshall — sport matching marks on their equally identical bald heads. But where Gabriel’s scar and baldness are due to the little dude’s diagnosis of a rare malignant brain tumor, Josh’s are man-made. The scar, in particular, is a tattoo that he says he got to “help [Gabriel’s] self-confidence.” Apparently, the scar made Gabriel feel like a “monster” and Josh went under the clippers and then the tattoo gun to make sure people would stare at both of them and not just Gabriel.
Take a look at all the love in this photo:
A lot of parents will de-fur their domes to stand in solidarity with their children who lose their hair due to the sometimes very harsh cancer treatments they undergo. It’s tough to lose your hair, and it tends to rob a kid of the last bit of normalcy they might have felt, so it isn’t uncommon for parents to get a close buzz to make their kids feel a little less alone.
In fact, that’s why Josh submitted the picture. Specifically, he sent it to St. Baldrick’s, an organization that raises money for kids with cancer. Part of their fundraising includes hosting “Big Shaves” where brave volunteers can have their own hair clipped off in furtherance of the cause. This year, they held a little competition called Best Bald Dad and invited dads with kids going through cancer treatments to submit pictures of themselves rocking a solidarity ‘do for Father’s Day. Josh won this year with the viral photo above.
As much as we wish that we could take on the pain and struggles that our children will undoubtedly encounter in life; as much as we wish we could absorb every cancer diagnosis or volunteer to swap places when pain rears its ugly heads, we can’t.
But what we can do — what Josh’s tattoo ultimately signifies — is keep them company the best way we are able until the worst of it passes. Illness, injury and pain don’t just affect the body. They can be terribly isolating and do a number on your emotional well-being and self-esteem, too. No one should have to go up against that solo.
One day, Gabriel — who is doing great and regularly monitored to make sure he stays that way — will see that his scar makes him a badass, not a monster. Until that day, he’s got a dad right there with him making sure he doesn’t have to figure it out by himself.