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What if you could hold their hand forever?
Journal & More | Week of November 28, 2022
For those new to this e-community, I offer my readers weekly snippets from my daily writing (tidied up a bit ;-)
This week just one journal share, plus a tip for holding on to loved ones, and a podcast interview with Grieving Voices.
November 30, 2022 | Wednesday
In sleep, hands reach for each other, proof the world always leans to connection.
More than four years unable to do, simply do, his hands soften.
Palms once held wounded hawks that nipped and clawed. Winters were gripping maul then axe with a fierce force. Summers, hauling rocks from riverbeds as if rescuing lost wisdom. Remember the evenings with a bit of brandy, listening? Yes, those hands heard stones speak.
Fingers knew carving tools, the precision of digging into wood, releasing birds and fish out of lengths of basswood, maple, oak, cedar, redwood that most would see only as heft and splinters.
Not so much rough, rather the thickened skin of use, that’s how they were, his hands, for so many years, yet tender.
They touched his five babies, women before me and then me, his mother’s cheek not long before she died.
More than thirty years to get to this timeless place in our night. His fingers upon mine, the fleshy tips so satiny and smooth. Hello, sweet fingertips. Is this how you were when you first reached into this life?
Suddenly the smell of moss, sound of rushing stream in a canyon. There he is on a boulder, crouched, tying an intricate and dazzling fly, cradling fishing rod, ticking it back and forth, ten o’clock, two o’clock, ten and two, a quiet cadence, casting an invisible looping line, the shimmer and flourish of that hand-made fly tapping down on water, delicate and tentative, after trout.
Delicate and tentative, delicate and tentative us.
Tip: How to hold on to the ones we lose
“How do I keep the one I love in my life when they’re gone?”
That’s one of the questions I hear most often in my work with those dealing with the loss, or anticipated loss, of a loved one.
Sometimes the question is further complicated by well-meaning family and friends offering generally terrible advice, such as, “stop thinking about her” or “you need to put him behind you and move on” or “it’s just an animal, you can get another.”
Yikes, no! At least for most of us.
So how do we keep our beloved others with us when they are no longer a physical presence in our world? There are many ways. One of the most powerful is to focus on the details, the unique characteristics, and yes, the quirks of your beloved person or animal.
Go back through all those mental filing cabinets that hold your memories. Hands are a great place to start (or paws or claws if it’s an animal companion). Visually recall their fingers, palms, any freckle or scar, maybe the bluish tinge of veins on top, the knobby writer’s bump on a knuckle from holding a pencil, and the certain way those hands bounced in the air when your person talked.
If you’re not great at visualizing, try feeling a memory of their hands, including the texture of their skin, whether the fingertips tended to be moist and warm or dry and cool, and how it felt when their hand was in yours.
If you can’t summon their hands, what about their their eyes or the inward spiral of their ears, the odd big toe, the crooked smile when they were scheming up something fun, or the wobbly gait of your pudgy dog when he heard you coming through the door and trotted toward you?
Try it. I’d love to know what happens for you—you can share a quick comment below.
Bonus Tip: How to hold on to the ones we have
Try what I just shared with the people and animals alive and well in your life right now. When was the last time you looked at someone you care about?
Really, when was the last time you gave deep attention to their hands or face or fidgety little feet, the way you might examine an unusual, beautiful and treasured shell on the beach?
The more you can set the details of the unique being that they are into your awareness and memory, the more you can love them and celebrate them now. Think of this practice as your gift to you, especially your future you.
Talking with a potential client recently, she said, “I just never thought about the possibility that she, this person I love so much, wouldn’t always be with me.”
An Interview with Victoria Volk, host of Grieving Voices Podcast
A while back, Victoria invited me on her podcast to talk about the power of telling our loss stories, what we’ve learned about healing our lives after the death of loved ones, and my approach for taking a break from grief.
One of my readers found it on my website, emailed to say that it was helpful to her on her loss journey, and suggested I share it with others in my e-community.
So, trying to listen to my readers as least as much as they apparently listen to me, I’m sharing the Grieving Voices episode. Just click on the image to listen to my conversation with Victoria … or not. You be you ;-).