They first held mine on January 2, 1993. We were in a darkened movie theater, watching “Forever Young”. It was about halfway through the show that his left hand – hesitant, shaky – snaked across the shared arm of the theater seats, lacing his fingers through my right hand.
They fit perfectly.
Soft. Young. Not yet roughened by hard work, but scarred a bit from childhood accidents.
They held mine on March 11, and slipped an engagement diamond on the ring finger of my left hand.
Fast. I know.
But our hands fit so perfectly together.
November 6, 1993.
It was the first snow of the season. Christmas decorations were just beginning to be set out in yards and shops. It was chilly as we hustled into the foyer of the church, arms laden with dresses and shoes and every little extra thing we thought we might need, and white flakes dropped onto our hair and noses and coats.
Inside the church was warmer, and we huddled in the nursery to change into our gowns.
Candles were lit, the music began, and I walked to him.
We stood before a crowded church: we were young, hopeful and filled with plans.
His hands held mine and promised a lifetime.
They’ve worked hard to make certain we always had a roof over our heads, food on the table and a decent vehicle.
These hands held my hair back when morning sickness morphed into hyperemesis, and the vomiting was so violent I was in and out of the hospital, weak and barely able to walk.
They helped me remove my home IV when my father fell extremely ill in a town hours away, because he knew if he didn’t help me, I would rip it out myself and go.
They held my own as I was wheeled off for an emergency C-section during the birth of our first child, and they held our little 6 pound girl the first time I laid eyes on her.
She looked so tiny, engulfed in his big hands.
These hands have helped me box up our lives, and move.
They’ve been the strength that held my back during difficult labors, and wiped dampened hair out of my eyes so I could see our newborn babies.
These hands held me up when our youngest son nearly died during a surgery at the age of two, and I collapsed in panic.
Over the years, these hands have become roughened by work, scarred and sometimes so grimy from hard labor they could not be washed clean.
They held mine as we sat in the school parking lot, nervous as all get out over our oldest child’s first parent-teacher conference.
They clutched my own hands as, together, we watched his father pass from this world.
These hands have driven me to emergency rooms during times of crises, when I was too shaken to take the wheel myself.
They have held mine as we have prayed over difficult life decisions, looking for the right way to turn. They have held mine after horrifying phone calls, bearing news that left us trembling inside.
They have fixed our cars, and our furnace, and leaky sinks and dishwashers when they were broken.
They lifted me up off my parents’ cold, cement garage floor the morning my father died, where I was curled up into a ball and screaming for my Daddy.
These were the first hands to hold the small, white, wriggling bit of fluff that became our first family dog.
They were the hands that sat shaking in the passenger side, when our daughters had their first driving lessons.
They were the hands that have helped carve Pinewood derby cars for our children, year after year after year. (After year.)
They help me wrap Christmas presents every year on Christmas Eve, because we are always running behind and can’t seem to get it done ahead of time.
And these are the hands that get up early each Christmas morning to make sure all the lights on the tree are lit, and the presents arranged prettily for pictures before we wake the children up.
These hands held my sister’s hands, as cancer overtook her and she lay weakly, first in the hospital, and then at my mother’s home on Hospice.
These hands held me as I held the hand of my sister, the night she slipped away from us.
They’ve held me in the worst times, and the best times, and the times in between.
Twenty years I’ve spent holding these beautiful hands.