Of Hands Held – a Song for Matthew from his Dad


Newborn fingers curled
Tiny potentiality of what would be
As you sleep
Trust held
In the gentle clasp of your hand on my finger
Hand held
Lost in the soft encircling of mine
Trust growing
As we walk
Hands held in protective embrace
Hand pressed in gentle play
Hugged in firm grip,
Trust flowering
As you laugh
Carefree in the game we play
Hand encircling mine
Potentiality grown strong
Grasps, presses, time reverses
In laughter the unspoken knowledge
Of son outgrown father
I hold your hand
While you drift in restless unconsciousness
Washed in your fears and my tears
Our hand entwined grasping at life slipping
I sit in choked silence.
Your hand grows cold
Lifeless, limp, slips from my grip
Time in shock stills
Emptied handed now
A memory is all I hold
Still sometimes
In the gentle wisp of wind
As it curls its way around me
Your hand brushes mine
And I smile in recollection
Of hands held.

I used to play a game with my children when they were young – it was a simple game of squeezing their hands.  They would squeal, laugh trying to pull their hands away. 

As my youngest grew he would periodically play this game with me, testing his strength against mine, seeing if he could squeeze my hand and crunch my knuckles and win against me.  He would end up laughing and giggling too much to squeeze my hand e too hard.
But then, Christmas 2008 after pudding while I was sitting on the lounge he came and coiled his lanky frame on the seat next to me,
“Hey pops” he said
And as I watched he grabbed my hand.  Stunned at how his hands were so large my mind went back 24 years to when as a baby those same hands were so small, so tiny, so beautifully formed.
He grabbing my hand squeezed, we laughed while I tried not to wince in pain at the strength he had but in that laughter we both knew the line had been crossed.  He was now my equal, more than my equal.  My son had more strength than I.
Four weeks later he was in a coma, eight weeks later he had passed from this world.  As I sat for those four weeks in Intensive Care holding his hand, my mind returned to that day when my son sat down and said
“Hey pops” and I knew my son was a man.
Matt this one is for you!

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