Carried by hands


Hand Reaching

She comes out to greet me in the waiting room. I haven’t been waiting long. It is at day’s end and my work is finished. During the wait, I scratch in my final words to tell her what I need. I will not need to speak anymore.

She leads me into the room. In the dim light I notice only the table and chair. “I’ll be back in a few minutes,” she says. I leave all of my clothes on the chair and wall hook; then I crawl under the covers and wait for the knock.

I lie on my stomach, my face cradled in the open circle at the top of the table. She turns on music, soft flutes and ocean waves.

I yield to her hands, oiled and searching. She finds my pain. Some aches I knew I carried; others lie hidden, deep within me. She seeks them out – knots of worry, muscles clenched, holding their breath. She forces them to breathe.


The pain cannot leave me until I feel it. Worry, long-forgotten deadlines, and anger hide within, cling to my bones. Her hands draw them out.

She murmurs and I turn, eyes closed, heart and mind still. Inside this room, I am outside my life, an in-between place.

I arrived once just as I am now, unclothed, at the mercy of hands. My leaving will be like this. An angel will prepare me for the crossing over. Her hands will find my hurt and pain and carry it away. I have swallowed darkness and sorrow; it clings to my bones. But it will yield to those hands.

We shall not speak; my words, as they are now, will be left there in the waiting room.

Then she will push my barge into the waters and the music will carry me across. And there will be hands, familiar hands, waiting on that other side.

Grand Teton National Park

Back massage photo courtesy of Nick Webb   

23 thoughts on “Carried by hands

  1. Wonderful concept. The summer I was getting massage therapy for the aftermath of a cruel bilateral sciatica siege I learned the deep quiet of letting go under skilled and sensing hands….

  2. Very beautiful vision. I’m sure it’ll stay with me for a long time to come, even though it is outside of my own experience, I am still very moved as I write the comment, thankful for your heart warming words.

  3. This was so beautifully conveyed, and leaves such a deep impression. To be carried gently across the waves, with the hands of those that have gone before reaching out to guide you home. Such a tender image. Thank you for sharing such a generous message. Absolutely beautiful.

    • I’d like to ask your permission to save this one, so that I can visit it again and again, both in respect to hospice work, and on a personal level. I’m always a little bit shell-shocked when the same person that can have me giggling out loud takes a different turn, and practically brings me to my knees. When you move in that direction, you go all the way. Thanks for this one. So beautiful.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s