The inspiration for these Hands projects bloomed from acts of Love.
The Art of Holding Hands
In 2009, while I endured what would become years of torture in solitary confinement, my friend Bobbi Dillman-Holman's body was invaded by cancer. Chemotherapy poisoned her, mutable surgeries transformed her body, and potent medication obscured her once vivacious personality, but never hardened her tender heart. She wrote me loving, supportive, sometimes illegible letters and on the last page traced her hand, the one with a stubbed finger we nicknamed "Nubby". I traced my hand in return and this became our physical connection. Bobbi died in March 2010. When I miss her, I place my palm on hers and for a moment we can still hold hands.
Will you extend your hand?
What's your Story?
I have lived in solitary confinement since 2008. The only hands that touch me are medical personnel or prison guards when they clamp handcuffs around my wrists and walk me from my concrete cell down the hall to a shower cage or to the visiting box. Each week that my mother visits, a guards hands search her body, inspect her shoes, and lead her through a metal detector and into the visiting box. Before we pick up the wall phones we press our hands palm to palm against the glass, the closest connection we can make.
I look at her hand. From the dirt wedged under her nails, I can see that she has been planting flowers. I point and ask what "happened"? She tells me the story behind a scratch: a malnutrition kitten she rescued from certain death. A cracked callous: to many dishes, not enough lotion. A blood draw bruise. A bacon grease burn. I realize how many stories are told by her hands, how much they do, and what those actions indiscriminately say about who we are. I think about Bobbi's nubby finger, Kim's chewed nails, Jamie's callouses, Dad's nicks and cuts. What stories could my hands tell? And what would they say about who I choose to be in life?
What's Your Story??
- Sarah Jo Pender
Painted envelop by Sarah Pender