What do you do when the ink runs out? Or worse, bleeds and then fades away. When the notes you wrote to yourself all over the palms of your hands are no more, and you forget. The days go on as if never interrupted and your heart is included in the shattered pieces you step over; interrupted.

Carol marches out the tune as I struggle to hold the hymnal, my eyes filming over again. Again.

“Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Great is Thy Faithfulness, Oh God my Father…”

Opi’s small, always moving fingers trace the words written on my hand, fading fast. “Get Flowers”, but I can’t answer the quizzical blue-green eyes asking for the reason. How do you explain the ache you felt when you penned those words onto your hand, as if an after thought, that has taken space in your spinning mind since mid February. How do you explain laying on a faithful mama’s bed, amidst the laundry and children, breaking over not knowing what to say to a grieving family, and how you felt her breaking while she watches you break. How the silence spoke to her want to find the right answer and her love, her heart hurting  for me and all the brokenness.

She hugs me Sunday morning and, almost guiltily, sneaks her artwork into my hand. A squeeze on my wrist and she chases children into the sanctuary.

It’s only a paper banner attached to a freshly broken twig with dragging twine holding it all together.

And suddenly I can breathe again.

It’s only a reminder. Words etched against a familiar backdrop of my favorite blue mountains.

And suddenly I can hear again.

Her kind handwritings slant across the white; life lines of truth. She is only the courier.

“Joy is a choice.” 

I clutch the banner through the whole of the sermon, wanting to pull it closer to me but afraid of crumpling the fragile paper.

I want to grab her and shake into her how much she means to me, how I can’t thank God enough for this gentle mother who has taken another wandering child into her full arms. How do I tell her that letting my tears fall on her worn out shoulder can never be repaid no matter how many children I watch or how many meals I make or how many gifts I give.

So I hug her again and say thank you again and hope that she can tell.

And then I order flowers and try a hundred different ways to tell a broken family I love them and can only bleed out “love Hannah” and she drives me home and asks if if she can help pay for them.

The effort I had put into gifting her that afternoon fades into oblivion.

How do you tell someone you love that you love them?

So I hang the paper banner next to the map of Italy and the chicken scratched reminder of someone else who wrote on His hands.

Later when Rosie and I struggle to grieve so far apart I look up from the broken text messages and I find that I can still breath.

“I will not forget you, see, upon the palms of my hands I have engraven your name.” 

 

 

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