Back in 2011, Garth Purkett and his friend Andy Osborne received a phone call that shocked them to the core. Their best friend had been stabbed, leaving him in serious condition. Now, the memory still clings to them like a tattoo — literally.
Mike Gosselin was on his way to a birthday party in Los Angeles with a group of friends when one of them was mugged. Attempting to intervene and stop the attack, Gosselin was stabbed during the struggle — an incident that took one of his kidneys and part of his intestine, Purkett told TODAY.
Recently, Purkett, a Seattle-based stand-up comedian, also took to Twitter to tell a detailed account of the story, and the outpouring of support on social media has been widespread ever since.
"This story's about the best joke I've ever been part of," he tweeted to his followers. "It starts on this night in 2010. I got a call that my best friend had been stabbed." (The incident actually occurred in 2011, Gosselin clarified to TODAY.)
Purkett goes on to explain that as he heard the news, he couldn't help but think: "My best friend is dying as we speak."
Later on at the hospital, doctors found that the knife used by the assailant had lacerated one of Gosselin's kidneys and a section of his large intestine. Unfortunately, both of them had to be removed.
Upon hearing this, Purkett says that he and Osborne knew they needed to fly to Los Angeles immediately to be by their best friend's side.
The pair even joked about bringing him an "ironic bag of kidney beans," but eventually they settled on something even more unexpected — and permanent.
"We lifted our shirts and revealed our gifts to him: bold, black tattoos of semicolons, placed in the exact spot he'd been stabbed," he wrote, crediting Osborne's sense of humor for the unique idea.
"I wanted to do something really stupid that would make him laugh. Then we heard part of his colon was removed, and 'partial colon' became 'semicolon,'" Osborne told TODAY, explaining the logic behind the symbol.
"We freaked out. It was perfectly us — perfectly Mike," Purkett said of the idea — even though Gosselin "didn't get it at first."
Afterward, the three best friends shared laughs and a few tears, said Purkett. Then, he and Osborne flew home a few days later, leaving their best friend to make a full recovery.
In 2014, three years after the attack, Gosselin joined in on the joke and got his own punny tattoo in the exact same spot as his friends.
Purkett told TODAY that the semicolon symbolizes much more than just a lighthearted joke. Referring to it as a permanent, physical representation of their bond, he said the tattoo speaks to the "love language" that the three friends share together.
"It spoke world's more to Mike than a long, handwritten card could have," he said. "And it's fitting that when people learn the reasoning behind it, it makes them laugh."
"I'm grateful every day that Mike survived that night — mostly because he's one of the greatest people I know, but also because, thanks to Andy's brilliance, it turned out to be the greatest pun I've ever been a part of," Purkett wrote in a heartwarming Facebook post.
"I love you Mike," he added. "Don't get stabbed again."
And if that's not the ultimate display of friendship, we don't know what is.