There is so much poetry tied into the image of hands.
We hold with them, we create with them, we nurture with them.
Yes, it is more than possible to hurt with them, but the hurt done with hands is healed with the hands of others.
So much of our lives are centered around what we can do with our hands.
When was the last time you looked at your hands? At the hands of those you love?
When was the last time you used your hands to show love?
It was a somewhat cheesy wedding reading, but there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. He held his hands out, I put mine in his. And the pastor read a passage that began this way, “These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you. They are holding yours on your wedding day as you promise to love each other…”
The reading went on to talk of many stages of marriage from the point of view of our hands. Working together, caressing one another, cradling children, comforting one another. The officiating pastor, one of our Religion Profs from school who probably could have counted marrying students during the summer as a second job, wasn’t thrilled about the reading. I knew he felt it was a little too saccharine and he wished we’d just stick to the script. But I was taken by the concept of those hands. I still am.
I think it’s why these pictures speak to me.
That morning, I pulled on my most comforting sweater and braced myself for the day. For D-day. Deployment day. It had hung over our heads like a dark cloud for weeks. We held each other at every chance. We savored last kisses. He checked and double checked his sea bag. The kids and I tucked 2 dozen little notes in various parts of his luggage.
And then it was time, and we were in the car, and I reached over and grabbed his hand and took a picture. It was the last time I would feel the wiry tendons in his wrist or that warm, steadying grip of his for 7 long months.
Our faces aren’t in the picture. Just our hands… and they tell the story vividly enough. We held hands for that last drive in before we pulled into the air terminal, and he climbed out, slung his sea bag over his shoulder and disappeared in the rearview mirror. I looked at the photo often and missed those hands of his…. I missed them halving the work of the household. Tickling kids. Holding me. I felt the sadness of that ride all over again, and imagined the warmth of his hand entwined with mine.
And then, 7 months later, I took this picture.
He was back and his hand was in mine again. We sat in the sunshine on our porch swing, thighs touching, and we held hands again. This time our hands were saying hello instead of good-bye. He was back, and real, and I didn’t want to let go of him for a second for fear that he’d disappear again, or I’d realize it had all been a dream.
These are the hands of my best friend. Hands that hold mine and then wipe away the tears before he kisses me goodbye for months at a time.
These are the hands that months later, find mine again–hungry for the contours and creases of their beloved. Ready to move from the never-ending work of deployment back to the work of marriage, family, and the household.
These are our hands. And they tell the story of our love today just as surely as they did the day we said our vows.