I loved his hands. Neat, square and strong. Nails clipped, slightly callused. Capable hands. Hands that gripped an ax, chopped wood, built a fire with finesse. Hands that tinkered. Hands that produced a distinctive, legible cursive. Hands that raked an acre of land with 20 odd oaks every autumn for 44 years.

Patient hands. I’d hand him a knotted necklace chain to disentangle. Or he’d reach out his hand without my even asking. Hands that shined shoes, uncorked wine bottles. Hands that cleaned cupboards, scrubbed floors, made his side of the bed.

Protective hands. Hands that moved me from the outside of a road upon which we are walking to the inside. I’d feel his hand reach around my waist and guide me to the protected inside. No fanfare. No words needed. Pure chivalry.

Hands that gripped a football, chucked an amazing spiral. Hands that fastened daughters’ ski boots, played catch with a son ’til near-dark.

Gentle hands. Careful hands. Hands with sensitivity. Hands that hold our newborn kids with expertise, with wonder, tracing cheeks tenderly.  Hands that reach up to my neck and massage the stress spots, feel my forehead for a fever. Hands that hold a Bible or a hymnbook with reverence.

I sit at a concert. I observe the hands of those around me, settled loosely in their laps. Some are couples. Their hands may be age-spotted or young as a Spring breeze. They are innocent of the thoughts I am having. Thoughts of how we used to reach for one another’s hands in settings such as this, fingers closing with years-long familiarity.

Even in the longing, all I feel is blessed.

April Carlson, MSW, LCSW, LLC