When words will no longer do, there are hands. When eye contact has ceased, there is expression in touch, rub, and squeeze.
This is where mother finds herself this Easter.
In her small and silent existence, I imagine she thinks only simple thoughts; move the fork. Push back the chair. Stand up. Button the button. Hold tight the walker.
In her tactile world there are still rich veins of exploration. I feel the warmth of her hand. Her hug, it makes me feel safe and alive. Walking with her hand in mine, I know I will not fall. Those hands soothing my back? They must love me. I am loved. I am not alone.
Mother’s hands are curious like a baby’s hands. They rub my face and they caress my digits. They raise the back of my hand to her mouth and rub against her lips, as if the words she can no longer speak rest upon the surface as some hereditary braille that I, her daughter, might understand. Am I to discover something? Discern what she means to say? Or does it simply feel soothing against her agitated chapping?
Our hands become one during the course of our long, daily caresses. Her hands and my hands, they’re not so different. They’ve touched many times over years, in so many places. They have Slapped Patted Rubbed Squeezed Hugged Tugged Pushed Pulled Lifted Caught Dropped Stroked Scratched Soothed Massaged. I am sure the list goes on.
How things begin, they end. There is a history between our hands, which know each other in ways neither of us realize. What is known, when words no longer tell us, still gives us reason to breathe.