They've changed so much already, those hands. Gone now are the dimpled knuckles and marshmallow fingers bubbling out from squishy palms. Granted they can still be sticky, but now callouses from monkey-bars and texta decorations adorn the hands of my children. They're an undeniable marker of age and the passage of time. And as time passes predictably and steadily, and those hands need me less and less, I don't ever want to forget how it feels to hold them.
Walking together is when a time of noticing and questioning, and often brings the kind of talk that can dawdle and drag its feet along a windy path...to wherever it is that it's going. Sometimes, it will start in one place, heading in a certain direction, and getting there with little delay or surprise. Other times, it charges out with no idea of what will unfold or where this talk may take us, abrupt to end and leaving us all a little dazed. The magic of walking and talking is the natural talk that happens when you aren't focused on talking. Oh, it's one of my favourite things in the world, this whole walking and talking thing.
Space becomes remarkable when we all walk together. Some days, it's the lack of personal space that strikes me, despite the vast openness we wander through on the way home from school. Three small people attached to me in some way or another, one hand holding onto the back of my jumper, another with an arm linked through mine, and the third holding the one free hand on the other side. In all this space, I am delighted to have none. There are so many tales to tell, the talking of each oblivious to that of the others in their rush to purge their day upon the rest of us. May these memories hold me up in the times that will surely come where bedroom doors are closed and stories kept secret.
But the best of all - on those times when I am walking with just one - when a small hand slips into mine as we walk. That's the moment. I reach down and open my hand, not looking for the connection or seeking the hand to hold, rather just finding it. Feeling those little fingers grab around my palm, as my fingers cradle around theirs. Falling into a silent comfortable swing, back and forth ever so slightly as we walk together. Noticing how their arms are no longer stretched up to meet my grasp, just slightly raised and slack. There have been times I've asked for a replay of that moment, looking to sear into memory that wonderful moment when our hands come together. Something so simple. I want to remember how our son's hands felt like his dad's, despite the incredible size difference. I want to remember how the littlest adjusts her grip and grabs a little tighter on the replay, delight on her face as she helps me to create a memory. I want to remember the returned squeezes from number one, the game we have played from before she'd remember.
We've always sung that Beatles tune about wanting to hold hands. I hope we sing it for years to come.