As a best friend’s father lay dying last winter we gathered around the edge of his bed and I grabbed one of his hands. I held it in mine and traced the lines and sun spots dotting his skin. Those hands were like a glimpse into his past; of a life well-lived. And, it was one of the first times I’ve talked out loud about how special I think a person’s hands are.
Mine are typing this post right now. They have typed, or handwritten, thousands of stories, letters and postcards to friends and family all over the world. They have held crying babies, laughing babies, and a dying baby. They have cooked countless meals and, in the case of tonight’s dinner, burned a few as well.
I used to watch my grandmother’s as she rolled out her own noodles, or carried my handicapped cousin through the house. My children have used theirs to make me homemade cards. My dad used his for manual labor. My mom uses hers to work logic problems, or wrap her loving arms around the back of her very dirty grandson.
Hands create, they comfort, they caress and they betray. I can’t help but think of the love they promised, the ring mine wore for 18 years, and how they held the pen that signed that all away. I remember another relationship when they were used to hurt me. I think of the guns they fire and the harm they can do.
And, I can’t help but think of the new hands I hold; stronger than any I know, calloused and worn, but gentle and giving. They have rubbed my shoulders during tense times, held me in the midst of darkness and danced with me in the light. They have been quite wonderful at prodding me to do new things in this new life. I love them.
They say eyes are the window to the soul, but I think it’s the hands. Next time I see you, take my hand and give me a glimpse into yours.