These are the hands that prayed for your existence, day after day, month after month.
These are the hands that shook as I stared down at a positive pregnancy test, in awe of what I was actually seeing.
These are the hands that rubbed my ever-expanding belly, hoping you could feel your mama’s love from the outside as well as from within.
These are the hands that gently rocked your daddy awake, when it was time to leave for the hospital.
These are the hands that held your tiny body against mine, and stroked your wispy newborn hair.
These are the hands that opened and closed over and over, because peek-a-boo elicited the sweetest baby giggles from your precious little mouth.
These are the hands that reached for you, as you put one foot in front of the other and toddled your way towards me.
These are the hands that played endless games of Candyland, constructed magical blanket forts, pushed you on the swing, and caught you at the bottom of the slide.
These are the hands that rubbed your back and stroked your hair, whenever you were having a hard time falling asleep.
These are the hands that pulled you in for the biggest hug, and let go of you as slowly as possible as you made your way into your kindergarten classroom.
These are the hands that let go of your bike, as you found your balance and pedaled out of my reach. And these are the same hands that cleaned up your skinned knees, if your plans went astray.
These are the hands that carry your “stuff”—the sports gear, the water bottles, the snacks galore.
These are the hands I hold in the air, whenever there is reason to celebrate with a high-five.
These are the hands that knock softly on your door, to make amends when our relationship has hit a rocky patch.
These are the hands that grip my camera, as I try to keep up with your evolving personality and all of your adventures.
These are the hands that will one day pass you the car keys, and will tightly grip my seatbelt as you learn to navigate the same roads that I have driven you down so many times before.
These are the hands that will clap the loudest as you walk across that stage on graduation day, and will wipe away the tears that will silently run down my cheeks.
These are the hands that will wave goodbye, as I proudly watch you step into the next phase of your life.
These hands of mine have done a lot of holding on. But they will also need to do a lot of letting go.
For someday, I will be praying for someone else’s existence . . . someone else’s hand you can hold, as tightly as you used to grasp mine.
One day I will watch as you place a very special ring on this lucky person’s hand.
And even though my heart will ache and my hands might feel a little empty, I will say a prayer of gratitude that there is now a new set of hands to join yours as you continue on life’s path.