Hands of Time


Tina Blackledge

Sunshine peaks over my shoulder
through a window in need of some
attention. Warming rays ease the ache
in hands I find myself inspecting too diligently.

As often done before, I wait.
A crowded room, everyone on his
own journey either waiting to open the
next door or continuing their next step
upon a well worn path.

Although I hear the buzz of a busy office,
chit chat of fellow patients, a discussion of
lunch choices by hungry staff, and the
peel of laughter from daytime talk
show audiences emanating from a distant corner.

My vision is focused upon my hands but
my thoughts are inward. My hands are not
feminine, delicate, or beautiful. Rough skin
indicates years of laborious activity.
A lack of manicured nails accentuates the
fact these hands have seen
more work than pampering play.
A bit bent, a bit swollen, fingers
glide over the many scars that
have accumulated over the years.
Touching each evokes memories
embedded in the patterns.

These hands have know tenderness
tickling a niece or nephew to sleep.
They have known labor that was
both paid and to fulfill an open need.
Fury and rage have been expressed
when they were clenched tightly.
Yet, they have also created
beauty, recorded words of
some worth, and just
clasped the hand
of another whose
heart had just broken.

These are not great hands
of great worth but they
have done important
things for many in a small
circle of friends, family, and strangers.
I thank God because they should be
twisted and gnarled by now, useless,
and nothing but claws but
God has allowed me to keep
the use of my hands regardless
of my body’s failings. I Thank
God for loving mercy, for these
hands still work.

My thoughts are interrupted when
the nurse calls my name. I clasp
the walker and pull myself up
pausing a moment to allow my
legs to get the message that
it is time to work now. As
I take my first step,
clasping the walker
with all my strength, I silently
thank God for his mercy and love,
for I should not be able to walk.
No, I should be bed ridden, but
against the odds, I stand, I walk,
I have use of my hands and my
mind is still sharp.

As I traverse the waiting room,
I smile at fellow patients who
are at least two to three decades
older than I. Some are in
worse condition but some
are only beginning this journey.
They look at me with an array
of expressions; confusion,
skepticism, scorn,
judgment, empathy,
and the most destructive,

Again, I answer each of their
expressions with a polite
smile, for they do not
know my journey
and what I have
conquered to
arrive in the

feel pity for them
because they do not understand
but they will as the disease progresses
and begins to rob them of everything
they have ever held dear.
Eventually, they
will arrive where
I find myself today
in the
very lonely
very isolated

The doctor’s visits
have become routine used
only to fulfill insurance
requirements. The care is not
curative but palliative, for I
know she will say, “I am sorry
but there is nothing we can do
to stop this monster from
destroying your body.” Of
course, I already know this
and try to reassure her that it
is Okay and that I know
she has done all she could
do in modern medicine.

I am grateful, for
I know my now should be
much worse than it is so I
thank God for his mercy and love.
For some reason, He is delaying the
worst this disease has to offer and I must
take advantage of the now because
tomorrow will be too late.


Tina Blackledge

Can you hear me?

My soul longs for your
My soul cries from the

Can you hear me?

A moment without
Pain, I have never known.
He shares my bed
His grasp is
firm as we
hand in hand.

Can you hear me?

Brokenness betrays me,
others have torn my flesh.
A burning ocean courses within.
My bones cry to you. Searing,
ragged breaths push
in and out.
but I cannot fill my lungs.

Can you hear me?

From the womb
I was broken.
from the womb I was

Can you hear me?

How can I bear any more?
How can I love?
How can I allow others to love me?
How can I bear it?

Can you hear me?

“I hear you, child.”
“The task is difficult and
the journey is… far.
I hear
the whispers of your

Do you hear me, Child?

“While pain is your bedfellow
and imprisons your
body. I hold you
gently, firmly, lovingly.
Pain will release you
and then I will cradle you in my embrace

Do you hear me, child?

“Your body is broken,
your flesh has been torn,
your heart has been broken,
your spirit has been crushed.
Your being cries out to me and
I weep bitterly for you.”

Do you hear me, child?

“I will gently kiss your
wounds as softly as the flight
of a butterfly and
caress the brokenness till
it is no more. I will
make you whole. “

Do you hear me, child?

“I knit you together,
I created your vessel
to carry my love to
the broken. My dearest,
I know what I ask
is unbearable but I will
be there with you. I have always been there.
I will provide for your
every need. I will send others to strengthen
and not take from you. I knit you
together with great care. I knit you
together with great purpose. I knit you together
in a way that will allow your loving words and actions to be
heard and seen by those lost in their misery, for if you had been whole,
they could not hear you.”

Do you hear me, child?

“I have instructed many
to come
to your aid, but not all
hear and obey. Yet, some have.
Others will come to help carry
the burdens just as you help others
carry their sorrow and hardships.
You are not alone, child. I love you more
than you can possibly understand and I will
never hurt you, abandon you, or cause any
harm to you.”

Child, do you hear me?

“I love you with
all my

I…I...hear you, Father. I hear
you…send me
and I will