Thursday, February 16, 2006

There's this great moment in the movie Contact where Ellie's "father" is talking to her amidst the panic and overwhelming mental state that she is in. He picks up her hands and says, "You have your mother's hands."

It makes me cry. Everytime I see it. It should be remembered, however - as a disclaimer, that after chemo I cry at everything: commercials, people on the street, the smallest gesture. I am told that chemicals have a way of moving like waves in the body after treatment. It's the way Jodie Foster looks down at her hands. I could swear she says, "Really?" It so disarming and I guess that was the point, to disarm her, to calm and quiet her. It also reminds me of a video documentary I saw years ago on Jack Kerouac, his later years when he was an alcoholic and his daughter was talking about before he died she was sitting next to him and picked up his hands and realized she had his hands, his big blocky hands.

It makes me think of friends and loved ones who have lost their parents. Recently, through holidays, anniversaries and memories it's been in their minds. At some point every parent makes a promise to their children they can never keep.

Every parent is given at the beginning the power, the ability to heal. Not everyone uses it. Not everyone respects it or even holds on to it, it can fade. But no other person can look at you and with all effort and compassion wrap their fingers around your heart and squeeze every so slightly. Not that I am getting all Oprah on everyone but it's a bit like those angels in Wings of Desire where they put their hand on your shoulder sight unseen. You have that gift. It's not just delineated by birth and blood. It's everything that the words maternal and paternal encompass. Later it can become fraternal. Long before paternal becomes a tank and plows through buildings and history as patriarchy or some other such metal, it starts off with hope. What follows is up to you.


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