Life Topics

His Hands

The skin on his hands were pale and paper thin
showing a tangle of blue veins.  Fingers longer and
thinner than I remember.  I stopped and stared at
the age spots and bruised skin of purple and blue.

Those hands changed my diapers, helped me cross
the street, tied my shoes, turned pages of a book
and spanked me.  I’m sure I deserved it.  My little
hand fit so well inside your warm fingers.

Now with weak hands, you reach for help and comfort.
We will hold them to support you, hold them to
assure you, to raise you up.  Our touch is compas-
sionate and real.  You’re never alone.

Daddy, when did you get old?  You didn’t warn me.
Signs of decay and weakness overlooked.
A gradual slowing down to a stop, to a chair and
to the bed.  Resting your hands or pressing them
together for prayer.

My life started with you and will end without you.
Nature sometimes sings a sad song you can’t conceive.
Those hands have always been a gift.  You lovingly used
them for giving, never for taking.

Life Topics

The Black Skirt


I took the black skirt out of the closet and chose a white sweater to wear with it.  It looked like I could have been going to a job at a restaurant, but I wasn’t.  Today is Jeff’s funeral.

I didn’t want to wear black today, not today.  It was a symbol that I accepted the loss.  I didn’t want to believe that he was truly gone.  As I put on the skirt, I thought of all the other times I had worn it to parties, to work, to events, paired with a shimmering top or a simple t-shirt.  I wore this skirt in happiness and expectation.  Now it was paired with grief, the kind that lingers and transforms into a deep hurt for all who knew him.  I felt the blackness of sorrow for his other friends, his children and his parents.

Zipping up the skirt, I knew that I had to grab my black shoes before leaving.  My everyday shoes,  that I never thought much about.  They are comfortable and dependable.  I’ll be standing for the service, standing outside the church, inside the church, whispering “I’m sorry” a hundred times, wishing we didn’t have to be here.  Shifting uncomfortably from one foot to the other, I watch the mourners, sleep deprived and aching to go back in time; to see him one more time.

After services, I get back home to remove the skirt and put on some jeans.  I will wear this skirt again, but hopefully not to say goodbye to a friend.