As long as I’m listing what I miss using my hands for, I might as well ramble on a bit more. I miss the responsibility my hands gave me. I miss choosing fruit at the farmer’s market: laying a smooth, firm tomato in my hand, rubbing my thumb over the amber fuzz of a peach, picking up produce to examine the color. Raising greens and herbs to my nose is a sweet little luxury I never knew to cherish. Sometimes at the farmer’s market, Evan would buy me flowers. One time, he bought me a three-foot tall sunflower. I held it over my shoulder like a parasol. Usually, though, he would buy me white hydrangeas – the flowers I carried on our wedding day. I long to wrap my hands around them again and hold them in front of my heart.
Then, of course, the cooking was such a joy. I carefully made a menu and gathered ingredients at the market. Next, I used ceramic knives to slice through the fruits and vegetables, tomato pulp leaking onto my cutting board, strawberry juice staining my butcher block. I miss the rough wooden spoons I use to mix beans, lentils, and spices in with my market finds.
I even loved cleaning up after cooking. My mother-in-law, Brenda, bought me an amazing book for my birthday. Basically, it gave formulas for how to make household cleaners, disinfectants, scrubs, and detergents using natural ingredients like lemon, white vinegar, and castile soap. I used to slice and squeeze lemons, collecting the juice in empty jars I saved throughout the week. I would add in the right amounts of soap or water, vinegar or salt, and make pretty labels for them. I loved how my hands smelled clean and a bit like sunshine after I spent a few hours scrubbing the bathtub, all the sinks, countertops, and table. At the end of all that cooking and cleaning, my hands were dry and tired, and I felt at peace, like I had captured the present and lived in my senses with my human needs. I still find serenity in the sound of a rough sponge scrubbing.
I also miss scratching and massaging my dogs, but I cannot talk about that too much without getting sad. I pet them with my knuckles now that my fingers curl in. I hope they can feel that I love them. Honestly, though, I am afraid they won’t feel my affection and will grow away from me. My hands were our only common language.