Hands

My hands are a book of stories, a criss-cross of scars, both seen and unseen. The scar across the back of my hand reminds me of my clumsy, carefree childhood, chasing my brothers through the house.  Stomping, yelling, running when running was just for fun.  Then the acute pain of catching my hand on my dad’s wire bristled sanding wheel, the bristles, like porcupine quills catching under my skin.  And then my mother’s tender hands, silky smooth bandaging my own small hand.

My cycling gloves have drawn tan lines across my wrists, a promise that adventure is mere pedal strokes away.  Steering my bike up mountains, beside rivers, through waves of wildflowers bowing over the plains.  My bike is escape.  My legs turn circles while my hands brake, shift, and guide almost without thought.  My mind moves beyond the daily clatter.  It is my space to think about big things and small things all under the careful guidance of my hands.

My left hand wears the promise of love.  Love in all its joy.  Love in all its pain.  Love without condition.  Love like I thought I didn’t have the capacity to give.  Or receive.  How my lovely hands took care of me this year.  Wiping away tears, both his and mine.  Our hands clasped in the spare doctor’s office, trying to hold onto light and hope.  If we just entwined our fingers tight enough, maybe our life together would not slip away.

My hands twisted medicine bottle lids, rubbed his back after lonely nights, and threw my raw prayers up to heaven.

The skin of my hands began to peel, as if my heartache had descended into my fingers and my hands could only respond by peeling away the layers.  It was painful, the forced exposure of new skin before it was time.  And still my hands continued to do all the required jobs just so I could make it from one day to the next.  Soon one day became many days and we’d held on long enough, tight enough, that our life together did not slip away.

My right hand wears another ring, the promise of eternity, of peace beyond my most vivid imaginings.  We cling to this and it clings to us.  It is here in our morning prayers, hands folded that we rediscover our life together, cognizant of the fact that we balanced precariously on the edge of it all and didn’t fall.

Stories balance on the tip of my tongue and the callous on my finger reminds me of my childhood spent holed up in my room, poetry spilling out, filling pages with graphite.  Now, my fingers tap at the keys of my computer.  It’s the rhythmic tapping of letters becoming words becoming paragraphs becoming the story of my life.

So far it is a story of joy, heartache, and healing.  I think of fairy tales and that phrase “They lived happily ever after.”  It always comes at the end of the story.  In my life story, we are living happily ever after.  We are living happily ever after right now because we are aware, so very aware, of just how precious now is.

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