I remember in vivid clarity the first time I held my husband’s hand. It was a handshake on a noisy, perpetually filthy road, and with it I learned his name. It stood out to me so because of it’s candor, it’s honesty, and it’s refreshing formality in a teenaged world of head nods and half-waves. It seemed somehow grown-up.
I realize only now how very young we were.
We have grown up together. For better or worse, our characters have molded each other like grafted vines forming a knotted hybrid.
When we were courting, we each wore a ring. Mine in Hebrew, his in Latin, they bore the words of Solomon.
On the morning of our wedding day, I slipped the ring into a little box, it’s promise now fulfilled. My right hand felt strangely naked. In a breath, he put another band on my left hand, and like a reversal of the Fall, that feeling of vulnerability, of loss and nakedness, seemed to disappear.
Five years later, the promise ring is still in its box on the dresser we share, and now I have another in its place, a Swedish tradition that marks me as a mother, as if somehow the living reminders would not proclaim loudly or widely enough the miracle of the fulfillment of those words wrought in silver, now inscribed upon my life: I am his and he is mine and we are one and our one became three and then four.
Then came the day when I realized that his hand touching mine no longer brought fireworks or imprinting clarity…
My beloved’s presence no longer conjures butterflies because, like the rings I wear, his hand feels like a part of my own body. The absence of it would be the remarkable thing.