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holding hands

I remember the exact place I was standing when my son reached up to hold my hand for the very first time. It was outside in the front garden, right on the path between the front door and the mail box, near the pink camellia bush.

And no, it wasn’t the first time we had held hands.
For I had grabbed and clutched his hand on many occasions prior to that day; when crossing the road, or when trying to pry him from the rows of toys at the department store, or to just to help him balance during those first wobbly stages of walking.

But this was the first time he had reached out for mine.

Not because he felt unsafe, or because he had been ordered to do so; but because he had wanted to. For no reason at all.

And that reason, that no reason, is why the incident is so deepy nestled in my treasure chest of memories.
Because the feeling of that unexpected little warm hand in mine represents one of those lump-in-the-throat beautiful moments.

Today that little boy who once reached up to place his hand in mine is turning 13.

Goddamn but it’s true what they say about time …

It flies by; whooshing past on a stream of chubby crayons then textas and the proud brandishing of a newly received pen licence. It is carried away by Mummmeee, then Mum. And its history is recorded by the tilting of my own neck which looked down for a while, then straight ahead for a moment, but for some time now, and indeed the rest of my life, will forever be looking up.

That little boy who reached his hand out to me is a teenager today.

Oh save me.

A teenager.

I’ve heard it could be a dim road ahead. Grubby and a little dank. And, I won’t deny there haven’t already been glimpses of what might be gloomy times ahead. But there have also been signs, bold, warming signs of the man he will be.
A man whom I will be proud of; a man who won’t need to hold my hand anymore.

But for now he’s a near-man.

One who is doing his best to pretend that he doesn’t need my hand anymore.

I still notice that he looks at it on occasion.

So I shall keep it ready and waiting.
Not exactly tucked away, deep in a pocket,
nor waving it in front of him, fingers wiggling like a mad-woman who cannot let go,
but just there.
Hanging loosely by my side.
Casually exposed.
Ready and waiting,
just in case he ever wants to,
for no reason at all,
reach out for it again.

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