Jewel's "Hands"

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      Time brings unexpected situations. It contains the power to cause opportunity or tragedy, and can overturn life-long lessons by either fulfilling people's faith or lessening it dramatically. Aside from a Christian upbringing, I have always strongly believed in each individual's sense of goodness, morals, and typical human values. There are some people who breathe this belief, some who we simply cannot live without, who shine this goodness from the bottom of their soul and influence others' way of living. It's those with honest loving hearts and pure solid souls that bring such greatness to the world that it is almost indescribable. Those who stiffly breathe this belief, who carry immovable faith in both people and God, leave the world in an utter hangover the moment they pass. We never fully understand what time thinks when stealing such a person, especially while there are so many others, so many worse, that could and should be taken; and I never cease to notice that the world slips down from its high ranking on the "great" scale each time we suffer the unfortunate tragedy of their loss. It is those wonderful people with their simply beautiful personalities and unstoppable love for others that, in the end, change the world to be just how it should be.

    Standing in the sun-colored living room, I remember the time-worn couch resting to my left, the inactive oversized chair on my right, and the matching cinnamon ottoman directly at its side. That was where my grandmother kept her plastic bag filled with yarn--on that ottoman. The colors of it mixed and varied, and pieces still clung to two blue needles locked in a half-knit sweater for my sister's doll. Returning as a callow teenager, I found the room just how I left it as a toddler the last time I resided at my grandmother's place.

    My aunt stood at the edge of my nana's door, her eyes watery with both happiness and sorrow--it was our last day down under; and though ecstatic we came at all, she bled tears and dampened the tissues that lay in her sedulous hands. Never more have I wished her eyes to work, simply to see her own bright blue beauties sparkle in the half lit living room by the beautiful mid-afternoon sun of gorgeous Melbourne. My heart always felt for her, partly because she never felt for herself; but she was upbeat and brilliant, and conveyed a sense of comfort that the rest of my 11 aunts lacked.

    My grandmother was pure grace in human form, an angel by all means, and the heart and soul of each her children--my mother being her youngest, greatest fan. My quiet feet led me to my nana's room, to her long blonde hair neatly tied back, to the smile that always bear her face, and now to the tubes that rest in the blue-green veins of her bland, gray arms. The constant grumbling of a square machine at her side bleached my insides and poisoned my most distraught organ, leaving it to beat slowly to the rhythm of an unfamiliar elegy. Sitting up, she looked languid, still managing the salutary smile she was known for. Her sanguine personality shown today and she was fervent to give us our usual hugs and kisses before our departure. My mother sat still upon the exhausted wooden chair in the shaded corner of my nana's room with fixed eyes and a weary heart.

    "I'll be fine," nana said with a willful smile, 83 years old and still a grin that kindled the hearts of the people around her. She coughed as if trying to palliate her lungs and breathed deeply. My mother leaned forward for what she knew to be the last moment in her mother's arms. "I love you mom, anything for you, anything at all," my mother said, hugging her and breaking through sobs as my grandma hid her own tears with immense effort.

   "I'll be fine, she said again through a cracked voice, "I promise I'll be fine."

   If I could tell the world just one thing, it would be that we're all OK. Jewel's long-forgotten "Hands" closed my mind from the worries that hung like drapes in the ache-box I stood in, and my heart pleaded to repeat the lyrics aloud, but my mind grew harsh and would not permit me. My brother, ten years old, became the first to lose control. His knees reached the ground in an unwilling battle as his face buried itself in the softness of his own sweet hands. Salt simmered through my eyes as my gaze followed his fall, passing an infinite number of gratuitous tears down my colorless cheeks. My heart beckoned my mind to hold my eyes still, not to let them drip the scorned water from reaching my already burning lips.

   I remembered my grandma in her earlier years. She was an ebullient person, obvious in her sweet laugh--a sound that eased your stomach and made you half smile with its jolly, half-high tone. She was an excellent cook and our family lived for her home-style food. My favorite dish was none other than her slow-cooked roast consisting of medium-thick gravy that resided heavily on top. Each side of the pan lined with baby carrots and potato halves adding nutrition to the already hearty meal--just the very remembrance tortured my senses. "Take a quick taste," she'd say, "Tell me how it is." "Delicious," I always replied with a child's mouthful of pure delight.

   Returning to the reality of the sick-hearted situation, her current state was not banal nor expected. Thick water consistently dripped with apathy into her helpless lungs, filling them to the brim as a result of a nasty tumor raking along her worn right side. Whereas smokers put themselves in this sort of situation, my grandma was defenseless, and hadn't touched a cigarette in her life.

   It seemed as though an ocean seeped from the back of my mother's mind, through the depths of her dark eyes, and poured out like waterfalls on the wood floor below. My lips parted from the pressed expression I kept before and I clenched to keep my eyes from running, from adding any emotion to the already sullen tone of the room. I twitched seeing a thin, silver needle dripping 35mg of prescription morphine being pushed into my grandma's bloodstream--it was a medicine she strongly relied on. I tugged my mothers arm to go and felt her dreadful desire not to leave. Fear emanated through her. With each tug she quickly drew back, begged for another kiss, and waved "just one more" goodbye. The whispers of a light breeze welcomed us outside as we left. My mind, in cooperation with God, eased itself using the sights and sounds of the nature in the colorful country. I was glad to have come and seen my nana for the last time before she'd go, and I knew she would soon. I thanked her with my mind for the person she was, and when my heart began to regain its faith, I patted my mother softly on the back, kissed her forehead, and whispered, "Love you mom, anything for you, anything at all."