These hands are not more like.- HAM I.ii
When I was a child, I was fascinated by these veins, standing out like inverted rivers on a relief map. I would poke at them to see how would divert beneath my touch. “Stop that,” she would say. My own children have done the same to my hands, and I say, "Stop that.”
Her final days, her hands could not be more different from each other. Her right hand, which had stopped obeying commands from her brain a month ago, lay still, devoid of muscular connection or attention. It was a soft and flat. skin rounded and smooth, like glass. Useless.
Her left still lived, wiry, boney. Her face had gone slack, emaciated, her left hand our best indicator of how she felt. She would raise her left arm, hand outstretched, to say, “I’m here. You’re here. We are together.” She would reach, grasp for attention. To hold hands. To say hello.
Or so we thought. Perhaps she was visioning, greeting those she thought she was seeing. We cannot know.
She would also clench her left fist, her arm in a stiff left angle. We took this to mean she was in pain, and we would provide medication. I like to think we were easing her suffering, and not merely depriving her of communication. She spoke with her left hand.
My mother died last night. She was washed and dressed, her cold hands placed across each other. They were alike again, and just like mine.