I remember the skin on the tops of her hands. Thin, as though she’d rubbed them too many times. Too many times warmed. Too many times washed. Tissue-paper thin and yellowing beneath the freckles.
I inherited her long fingers, her cheekbones, her tendency to laugh generously. Not loudest or longest but as though it were the only laugh that mattered. Sincerely, like she understood a part of the joke that only ever hovered above your head.
Her laugh was a club you felt honoured to belong to.
Her laugh was a warm cup on a bitter day.
A woman to be sipped and savoured, not gulped.
There are things I know and then there are things I fabricate, hoping they ring true. I know her second toe was longer than her first, like mine. I know she desperately wanted to be published. I know that she saw the good in everyone.
I hope she was clumsy. I hope that these stumbling feet and wild arms were her’s once, too.
I know she once punched a guy because he deserved it.
I know she once ate hot peppers to prove a point and only proved that hot peppers can make you violently ill.
I hope she knew. I hope she knew that when I stopped coming it wasn’t because I loved her less but because I loved her more, the most.
That I intended to return. That I was on my way.
That I was only three minutes too late.
That I didn’t believe what the nurses were shaking their heads and saying as I sprinted down the longest hallway ever made.
That I was too young to understand but old enough to know better, to be better.
That I’ve spent each day since running down that marble corridor,
just to hold her tissue-paper hand.
Angus & Julia Stone – A Book Like This