Four Words

Not too long ago, my friend Caitlin posted a picture on Instagram of some graffiti on the side of a building near my apartment. No drawings. No pictures. No symbols. Just these words: “Hold Your Own Hand.” Very shortly after I saw her picture, I was driving home from work and saw the same words written on the side of a building I pass every day. Today I saw them again, painted on a construction sign just down the road.

These words are having a significant impact on my emotions, even if ever so briefly, every time I see them. What a terrible, sad message to be sending. What has happened to you, graffiti artist, that has made you so angry or bitter or hurt? Do you not realize that part of why we are all here on earth is to be there for one another? To love and to encourage and to bear one another’s burdens? To both figuratively and literally hold each other’s hand from time to time?

It’s been quite some time since I’ve held anyone’s hand just for the sake of touching. I can’t even explain to you how much I would love for that to occur. But it’s on a fairly regular basis that I have the opportunity to hold another’s hand, or someone holds mine, to help each other through a moment, a day, a week, a long stretch of pain, hurt, sadness. Have you, graffiti artist, not experienced this? Have you never had someone text you just to see if you’re doing ok? Email you to let you know they are thinking of you? Send you a card expressing how much they love you? Pick you up and take you out for a beer or two because they know what you’ve just experienced is killing you? Offer you a physical hand to squeeze to distract you from another physical pain? Pray for you when you couldn’t find the words to pray for yourself? Sit in silence with you when you simply couldn’t be alone but also couldn’t speak? Cry with you when that’s the only thing you could do? Laugh with you when it’s what you needed most? Cook for you, or bring you food, when you couldn’t get off the couch to do so on your own? Reach out to touch your hand when theirs is cold so that you can spread some of your warmth? This is what it means, more often than not, to hold another’s hand. These are the things we cannot do for ourselves, the things we are here to do for each other.

My heart hurts for you, graffiti artist. I hope you find a friend who helps you see that you don’t have to do it all alone. You can be a strong, independent person and still want to have a hand to hold. It’s simply part of being human.

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