Although originally written three years ago after an E5 tornado struck Moore, Oklahoma, these words also say all that is on my heart this Mother’s Day…
On my wall, you will find a handprint.
Single. Solitary. Small.
Even in its stillness, it dances, it shouts, it sings of life.
Yet, as I trace its shape and consider its owner, I wonder when it became more than a stain on a wall.
Was it the moment it was created, placed in near purpose? Was it the second I knew my memories would need to be kept outside the trappings of my mind? Or was it the culmination of the many storms that have passed and taken little hands from here to Home?
When did it become precious? And beautiful? And nearly holy?
Was it a Monday in Oklahoma or a Friday in Connecticut or some other day I’ve long forgotten?
Was it after I read that there are moments I don’t need to savor or before?
Was it the second I realized that when the sweet lady with dementia said, “Enjoy your beautiful children,” it was not a command meant to frustrate but rather free me?
Did I understand that she was missing a handprint or two or ten on a wall somewhere that could no longer be remembered? Did I realize she was not blowing unicorns and rainbows and sunshine into the cavernous place of the mundane, daily chores of motherhood? Did I hear her?
Or did I discount her?
Did I see that “enjoying” mommy moments did not suddenly make poopy diapers magical or tantrums a blessing or sibling warfare pleasant? Did I open my eyes to today, to the impermanence of tomorrow? Did I rip down the barriers to perspective?
Or did I take it all as insult?
Did I have the guts and the humility to remember a handprint on another wall?
The one that a father traces each morning longing for his little girl. The one a sister high fives, wishing a warm hand was there in its stead. The one a mama cannot bear to wash or touch or leave because even in its stillness, it dances, it shouts, it sings of life.
A life that was little and small and vibrant. A life that drew on walls and forgot to flush and tore through a pound of M&M’s when no one was looking.
A life that mattered so dearly and deeply that a handprint on the wall became holy in its owner’s absence.
How can you honor a life like that?
How can you salve the dismantling of a community, a home, a family? How can you breathe hope into the destruction? How can you love beyond water bottles and diapers and wipes?
You see the handprint differently.
You hug its owner more often. You snuggle more than you shout. You reach deeply past the mundane to the part of the journey that is holy.
You stop long enough to allow your perspective to be changed.
So that when you open your eyes to the mercy of a new day, you start it differently.
You find. You reach. You hold. You treasure. You persevere. You even enjoy.
The hands. The heart. The face.
The madness. The mayhem. The mundane.
You love the handprint now.
You don’t wait for a Monday in Oklahoma or a Friday in Connecticut or the broken heart of another.
You see it today.
Single. Solitary. Small.
You smile. You put the rag down. And you realize it is no longer a stain…
It is life.