My sister Katie says her daughter Lily has my hands. I wish I had Lily’s features, which is to say, I wish I had Katie’s. Mother and daughter are naturally beautiful, gentle, fair and whole-hearted. Lily’s 15th birthday party was among the tsunami of cancellations and she weathered it admirably, following the grace under fire example her mom models. It’s not easy to keep soft hands around all this change. All the washing is making my hands crack at the knuckles.
Those of you that know me well know I’m tactile. I’m a toucher. I reach out to strangers, to dogs, to children, to old folks, to the flowers, trees, lamp posts that tolerate my advances. I come by it honestly. My mom’s hugs cure people. My dad pats backs. They make it their business to stir a smile in others, especially in passing exchanges that might otherwise feel transactional, meaningless or separate. It’s their ministry and I am their child. I learned from them that joy is contagious, a slight of hand that yields plenty.
I feel particularly jumpy sitting on my hands, reminding myself as I pass neighbors walking pets, keep your hands to yourself, Megan. In this definitive, surreal moment, I am missing the antennae of my hands and the life-affirming contact with others. Too slight of hands. I will try to spend this time feasting on handprints then.
- The time Mom held my face in her hands, Christmas of 2008, and told me –certainty in her ten fingers - you are not broken.
- When Emily and Lesley picked me up off my front porch after Cal's call about Winston.
- Carter’s little hands braiding my hair, carrying her on my shoulders through Disneyland.
- My father’s hand on mine, I know you’ve wanted this for a long time, my arm in his as he walked me down the aisle.
- Passing of the peace in Merida to faithful strangers.
- Discovering together that my new apartment had been robbed and ransacked, Stroodel moved me into her living room, made chicken soup, her hand never left my back.
- Holding my niece Lily’s hand – my hand in miniature – the unmistakable thread of our sameness, the molding clay of being.
Watch your hands as you wash your hands. Think of what they’ve held and let go of, what they’ve made and destroyed, what you’ve given and taken, appreciating what your hands have learned to do and what they still don’t know. And with your hands reassure your heart. Place one on top of the other and lay them on your chest. Let them counsel your heart with this:
Separateness is a trick. Like our hands, we are all paired, interdependent, interlaced and holding each other.