The first time you slipped your hand into mine, it was awkward. It was a week after we had started dating and we were walking in the afternoon sunshine. It was impulsive and quick, as if you thought about it too much, you wouldn’t be able to muster up the courage. Your fingers weren’t intertwined in mine, your hand was just wrapped around mine like an awkward handshake. It was warm. It was new.
“He was asking for you,” The nurse told me, and I couldn’t help but laugh at how loopy you looked when I saw you lying on the hospital bed. You were being very impertinent, constantly asking the nurse your vitals and commenting on your good health. You said you were fine, but the anesthesia was clearly still working. You asked for permission to wear your glasses and I smiled and handed them to you. You were insistent that I hold your hand while we waited for the doctor. I complied and this time my hand warmed yours.
Four years felt like forever. That night was magical: a fancy dress and expensive restaurant, doing things that we normally didn’t do. If time could stand still, I would want to stay in those moments forever. And then you were down on one knee. You knew the answer before I even said it and scooped me into a hug. This was what forever felt like, and I couldn’t stop holding your hand.
I was driving with my left hand, and my right was holding yours. You were leaving for Spain for the summer, and I still wasn’t prepared. I had been holding tears back the entire drive, trying to keep it together in front of you and our friend. I made a wrong turn, but lied and said it was an accident. I just wanted to hold your hand for a little longer. You took your suitcase when we parked and you hugged me hard. I couldn’t stop the tears. I had to let go of your hand. And then you were gone.
I was sobbing. Words had never stung so much before, but the silence in your answers were worse. The crickets and lightning bugs were out, the night as dark as a sea of ink. I didn’t want to speak to you but you sat on the porch outside my house for hours until I eventually came out. Your words were quiet and you took my hand into both of yours. I tried to remove it. We almost broke up, but you held on tight.
My dad originally held my hand. I was dressed in white and you were in light gray. It was the first time you wore a bow tie. There were tears in your eyes but I couldn’t stop smiling; I knew if I did, there would be tears in mine, too. My father placed my shaking hand into yours with a kiss on the cheek. I don’t remember the exact words, but I remember the feelings. My hands were now yours, and your hands were now mine.
It was snowing, the flakes on the ground making the world outside shine. You climbed into bed before I did and made your side of the sheets warm. I slipped under the covers and shivered. I tentatively reached out my hand of ice, searching for your warmth. You yelped when I found your arm and I couldn’t help the laughter that bubbled out of me. You told me I couldn’t come any closer or I might hurt you because I was so cold. But you pulled me closer and slowly warmed my hands between yours.
Now, as I lean my head on your shoulder and slip my hand into yours, I think of the countries your hands have seen, the people yours hands have helped. And yet, your hand is here in mine, still.