Good Hands

They are good hands. On an early Sunday morning they build a bed for the boy, fold laundry, make the bed with crisp, new sheets. They cook breakfast and make hard-boiled eggs for lunch the next day. They empty the dishwasher and brush the boy’s hair. They unroll the rug out on the patio now that it’s no longer covered with snow. They wave to the neighbors and steady the boy as he roller skates down the street, pick him up when he falls, brush the dirt off his palms. They touch his face when he gets mad after the TV’s turned off, wipe away each sudden and angry tear.

They are good hands, my two, and yet, when I think of them, I think they are also missing something, think too of the last time a man held one of them, really held it, until I chose to let his go. I am in my living room and I am crying, and he pities me but does not understand me, and so he holds my hand until I let his go. I let his go because he thinks of touch as comfort and I think of it as trust, and I am not quite so casual with it as him. He thinks of it as comfort but I think of it as trust, touch almost no one by accident, and months later will think I should have listened to the part of me which, that day, let go first. It is very nearly the last time I will ever see him.

They are good hands, and on Sunday they take pictures, and rearrange flowers, and sweep. They write a letter and leave it in a drawer. They write an essay and put it in the closet. They write an apology, then delete it. They run the water for a bath and hold a book for story time and they tuck a boy into that big, new bed, and it is as easy as breathing.

Good hands, these two, that had grasped other familiar hands more times than can be counted. Hands that a husband had held. Hands that had made dinner or held a shoulder while sleeping. Full hands. Hands that had spent years saying I’m listening and I’m sorry and I love you.

They were good, these hands.

My two, now empty, hands.

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