In the middle of the night, your hand was sticking up from under your pillow—so still and open—as when we finally stop reaching and are just beginning to receive. I gently twined my fingers in yours. You were so asleep, and yet you took my hand. That’s how deep we can go. We hold on, even when drifting in the sea of dream. I couldn’t see your face, only your hand. And with no distractions, with no dishes to wash or bills to pay, I was winded by all the things you’ve held and cared for, including me. This was the hand that stroked your mother’s face before she died, the hand that cupped a baby bird till it could fly, the hand that cupped my face when I was so alone in my pain, the hand that learned to give our beloved dog Mira shots to ease her arthritis, the hand that sometimes doesn’t know how to care for itself, the hand that renews itself nonetheless by planting things in the earth. I wanted to place your hand, like a salve, on my heart but didn’t want to wake you. Then your fingers went limp, as if the dream you were falling through was coming to an end. In that moment, I feared this is what it would be like if you were to die in your sleep. I quickly squeezed your palm, and you stirred. I held you and whispered, “Everything’s alright. Go back to sleep.” And you turned over. It was then I put my head on your shoulder, leaning on the mystery of your heart, of my heart, of the one indivisible heart, as thousands have done throughout time.
A Question to Walk With: In conversation with a friend or loved one, describe the history of the hands of someone you love.
This excerpt is from my book, Things That Join the Sea and the Sky (Sounds True, 2017).
*Photo credit: João Jesus