As I hold your hand I thought about how many times I studied them, the shape, your fingers, your rings, the softness. I think about the mornings over a cup of coffee and a cigarette and watching how you held your cards while we played our thousandth game of gin rummy. I think about seeing them holding the newspaper in the morning and the smell of a fresh lit cigarette. I thought about the way you could move material while you pressed and sewed my beautiful curtains in my house on Doyle Street. I thought about how we walked hand in hand at last Saturday’s funeral. I remembered spinning your marquis cut diamond wedding band and thinking that your hands were smaller. I thought about your soft hands cupping my face to look into my eyes after a fight with my own mother all those years ago. Your hands have held me since I was little and now I hold yours. Do you know I’m with you? Do you know how much I love you? Have I told you often enough? Can you hear me??
I hold your hand and I hold Bill’s hand and I pray. I pray for God’s will to be done, but I think I’m sinning because I’m saying those words but my insides are screaming “NO NO NO!!! You can’t have her yet!! We have a 40 year running score card that needs to be finished! We have conversations that need to be dissected. We have laughter to make. We have to have more time!! You can’t take her from us yet!! My mom needs her! I need her!!! We all need her!!” Am I sinning because I can’t make myself accept my own prayer??
I hold your hand and try to warm them but they are keeping you cold so that the blood doesn’t flow too fast. It doesn’t make sense because you’re like me, we are always freezing! I asked them to wrap your feet in a warm blanket and they did. Did it make a difference? It made me feel like I could maybe make you more comfortable.
I want you to know that I am blessed by you. You have given me so much more than you can know. You taught me how to make a bed so it was perfect. You taught me how to throw a party when all I have to eat is cheese, soda crackers and peanuts! You let me spend my summers at the lake with you and entire gang!! You taught me how to make blanched, roasted almonds and to appreciate the taste of homemade tomato juice. You gave me permission to be me when we were together with no judgement and only the occasional “Oh Liza!!” when I overstepped even your boundaries!! You got me through the toughest days of my life and made growing up more than bearable. You showed my what an “open door” really looks like. You helped me sort out my feelings when I didn’t have a clue. You listened. Do you know how much I love you? Can you hear me?
I hold your hand and kiss your forehead and I tell you again “thank you, thank you, thank you, my God I love you.” If you think you need to go home, I can’t begrudge you that privileged because I know your faith. I know you go ahead of me unafraid of the journey. You will help make me less scared when my time comes like a thief in the night. Yours came in an instant. The fear I have is the days I have left without you. How can I help my Mom live without you because she isn’t the same since my dad is gone? You and Mom have been best friends for my entire life. When dad died and you showed up in the cold winter night with jammies in a plastic bag and a bottle of wine you sat with Mother in front of the fire crying, mourning, being there…. that is a friend. You always knew when she needed you and you were there for each other. You saved her. She will never forget that and neither will I.
Can you feel that I am here? I am here alone, singing and talking and remembering. So many memories and so much love. The nurse came in and asked if I was “family”. I didn’t have a answer right away… I stuttered and stammered, then I cried…. “No. But I think I’m the only daughter she was ever going to have.” I cry and tears hit your arm and your skin absorbed my tears. I suppose that makes me yours….
“May the road rise to meet you and the wind be always at your back…”
I love you SHB.