Heavenly Hands


Growing up, we always had dogs, but after heartbreak with a young Beagle and a bouncy Jack Russell who met his end under the wheels of a car whilst chasing a fox late one night, my mother decided: No more hounds.

I longed for another dog more than I longed for Donny Osmond to sing Puppy Love to me, and I campaigned vigorously for a canine to be reinstated.

Determined to prove that I was capable of being the sole carer (I ignored the fact that I was at school during the day – presumably my dog would posses an iron bladder, be capable of crossing its legs or using a flushing toilet), I ‘looked after’ a toy dog, putting it to bed, feeding it and so on. I even took it for walks.

I may have been desperate for a dog, but not so desperate that I risked getting my head kicked in by the local hard girl when she saw me with a stuffed toy on a lead, but this didn’t mean that whilst I was out and about I couldn’t ‘feel’ my dog with me. I’d walk along the road and he’d trot beside me. I’d stop whilst he cocked his leg and whisper “Good boy!” when we passed another dog without any snarling or snapping. It sounds funny now, but my imaginary dog was incredibly real to me. I could feel him tug at the lead or hang back when a bus rattled towards us. I knew when he was frightened or having fun. What’s more, my campaign worked: unable to live without a hound in the house, the parentals caved in and a new puppy arrived.

I tried something similar years later when I wanted a pony, but a teenager in jodhpurs and a riding hat careering around the garden whilst whinnying and neighing and slapping her thighs with a riding crop isn’t cute – it’s creepy – and I never got my pony.

Sometime after JS died, I was walking The Hound on Hampstead Heath when I inadvertently caught sight of my left arm and hand sticking out from my body, as if I was walking around holding hands with someone. It gave me a shock; I wondered how long I had been doing it. I carried on walking, and, after a while, slid my eyes to the left. There it was again, my arm outstretched, the fingers of my hand slightly curled, as if I was holding onto something – or someone. I reined my hand in, but again it drifted away from my body. I seemed to have no control over my limbs.

Perhaps I was suffering from anarchic hand syndrome? My husband and I once saw a programme about this condition and (rather meanly) practically wet ourselves watching perfectly normal people being unable to control their hand.  We’d (OK, mainly me) sometimes act out anarchic hand syndrome, combining it with restless leg syndrome and finishing off this cruel little vignette with narcolepsy. One vivid memory of my husband is him sitting on the sofa crying with laughter watching a committee of narcoleptics trying to take meeting notes.

That day on The Heath, I gave up trying to control my left hand. I walked around holding thin air, and yet the air wasn’t thin: I could feel my husband’s hand in mine, I could feel it’s warmth and the roughness of his knuckles. His hand felt more familiar than my own.

Was it a sign? Was he walking beside me as I sobbed? I’d like to think so, but experience with my imaginary dog forty years before tells me otherwise. JS’s hand felt real to me, but so did the dog on the lead and unlike my husband, that dog never existed. What conjured up the dog was my imagination and my intense longing for him exist. I hardly need point out the parallels.

But there is a difference.

As a child I could will my dog to ‘exist’ on cue. Now, however much I long for JS to be here, however much I try to imagine him walking beside me, other than that one brief time on Hampstead Heath, my hand has never again reached out on its own.

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12 Comments

Angela
Reply August 22, 2011

If it has never happened again since that day Helen, perhaps J.S was there beside you in spirit and your subconscious was reacting to this?

When my Husband was alive I didn't believe in ghosts. I believed in God, but not ghosts. My Husband was an hotel manager many years ago. He was a very level-headed man, so when he once came home after a long shift, with the conviction that during that night, whilst walking the hotel corridors doing his usual safety check he had actually seen the ghost of a woman pass from the corridor, through the wall into one of the bedrooms, I was in stitches. It had frightened him and he had raced the length of the corridor to get to the stairs as fast as he could - that gave me months of leg-pulling material! I am so non-psychic I could spend a night in the most haunted place in England and not see or hear a thing, hence my disbelief before widowhood.

When my Husband died however, I began to 'feel' his presence, not immediately and only very occasionally. When it happened it was beautiful, I felt his 'essence' and it was a wonderful, huge comfort. Was it my intense need to be near him? I genuinely don't think it was because when it happened I was usually engrossed in some other activity and it would take me unaware, yet many was the time I was desperate for this presence and not matter how much I yearned for it, it simply wouldn't happen. I have had other strange but wonderful occurrences since Malc died. Each one totally inexplicable, each one a gift bringing huge comfort. If this is merely my intense need for his presence, then it is being satisfied to some degree, and I will take whatever I can get.

    Hat
    Reply August 22, 2011

    Angela, I believe your husband too. Mine was also very level-headed and he has seen a ghost too, and had it confirmed by the owner of the house. He has also seen poltergeist activity in the presence of other people, and a plate floating across a room in a medieval house. I believed him, and I've actually been with him on one experience in this very house. There is more to this world than we can see I believe.

      Angela
      Reply August 22, 2011

      Hat, I feel a bit guilty now for teasing my man so much about this incident. The poor guy was clearly weirded out by it and all I could do was laugh and ask him if he been drinking the hotel's profits away prior to doing his check.

      Now of course, having 'felt' his presence and had a number of unbelievable things happen (I don't tell people about them because I know they will do what I did and dismiss them), I am now truly aware that there is 'something' going on around us. Even my eldest Son has had things just fly off the middle of his desk in his bedroom - no breeze - nada. He is 26, again very logical, but it didn't frighten him, he just said 'Hi Dad, love you' and carried on watching his telly. x

        Hat
        Reply August 24, 2011

        Lovely post Angela, thanks for sharing, you've given me added hope. I wish I could feel my husband's presence. I long to. One day I think it will happen, as PG says I think I am way too wired for anything to really happen yet.

    Planet Grief
    Reply August 23, 2011

    Angela - with it being my birthday yesterday and rather sobby and flat, I am just catching up with yesterday's comments. This is such a lovely post - both touching and yet funny. Although I could 'feel' JS's hand in mine, at the same time I have to admit I didn't feel his presence - his essence - and yet I was certain that I would. So many others who describe themselves (as you did) as non-psychic have had similar experiences to yours. I am hoping that perhaps if I could relax a little, something might happen... PG xx

Emma
Reply August 22, 2011

PG the image of you with your imaginary dog...it made me 'aww' and also relate... reading the post I knew how it was going to end...

Your sense of humour is so similar...M and I had similar afflictions we used to mock in others that we could imitate ourselves...all in the worse possible taste, but caused lots of raucous giggles and muchos pant wetting. It is lovely to hear of you and JS and the snippets of your connection.

I wish, I concentrate, I read into things... and I am yet to have a spontaneous hand reaching out experience..

and all I want is for my hand to be held.... x

    Planet Grief
    Reply August 23, 2011

    Emma - but although I wrote about my hand being 'held' it gave me no comfort. It just felt sad and disconnected and (I am not being flippant here) underlined the fact that I feel grief really does sometimes send you insane. PG xx

D L
Reply August 22, 2011

I only feel him in my dreams, but some so vivid that they wake me.
" and all I want is for my hand to be held" says it all.

xxxxxx

Fairy-girl
Reply August 22, 2011

Both of my children at the moment have an imaginary dog..he sits with us in Mc Donalds..they buy him food..he even has a name..I´m wondering if they are reaching for something more. But I think, hey, it´s all good..if they were teenagers with a pretend pony and a riding crop...Um..yeah, I´d be worried!

Hands..what I wouldn´t give to hold "his" hands..sometimes I stretch out my arm, when I´m laying in bed and open my hand..I don´t feel him but I think maybe..just maybe if he´s there..he´s holding my hand too..or he´s shaking his head affectionately thinking I´m hopeless!

I think about how the mind can create something and then how we just "feel"...are they the same thing? I think we feel before the thinking process begins..PG you felt the need and longing for a dog, so you created it..that day on the Heath, you "felt" before you thought..so the feeling you had was real. The dog you knew you didn´t have, so you created it..like when to try to feel JS..you can´t conjour him at will, though should he be there, you will feel him like you did that day...
Instinct..feelings..they´re there and we can´t explain them, we just feel them. They are part of what makes us human as well as our minds..right? Trust what you felt PG, just as someone would tell you on any other occassion to trust your instinct, they are the same thing..

I might need another coffee now..bit early in the day for this...

Big Love, Fairy-girl xxxx

Hat
Reply August 22, 2011

PG, I have had the same experience. I found myself walking down the beach with Hound Mark Deux and noticed I was holding out my hand, silently begging him to hold it. I can feel it still, feel his face, his arms, his warmth.

I have had a strange experience the last couple of nights, I sit on the sofa and I can feel my hair moving, and a feeling of static electricity....like someone is patting it. Is it me, or is there something else , I don't know but what I do know is that before that much more time elapses I am going to become the female Louis Theroux and darn well find out...I haven't felt up to it yet...but I will in time.

Big Hug, Love Hat xx

Sue G
Reply August 22, 2011

Oh PG, I so remember that programme about narcolepsy and also fell about laughing at the irony of the commitee meeting.
I still recount it to this day.
I didn't mean to poke fun at them but it was just watching them fall asleep one by one, it was like something from a comedy sketch.
I still "feel" Marc pulling me up out of the chair saying "come on time for bed", because I have dozed off, and I have also felt his hand in mine whilst sitting in the garden.
As long as it is bringing us comfort, I don't mind if it is my imagination feeling these things, or if I'm really feeling him next to me.

Big hugs XX

Julia Cho
Reply August 23, 2011

Thank you yet again for making me chuckle out loud. Both the image of your teenage self and pretend pony (mostly your delivery of it) as well as the delightful laughter between you and your husband over those "afflictions." We had a similar one where we watched a show about people who couldn't remember other people's faces. We called it the "face disease" and I was convinced that I had it so it became an ongoing joke.

Many times, I have, not unconsciously, but consciously, checked to be sure no one's right there, and put my hand out like you did while walking along the Hudson River pushing Audrey. I want to remember the feel of our hands together...what is it about that that is so special? The hand holding? I knew I would marry my husband from the first time we shook hands. I still remember it vividly. When I was planning the wake, I told friends I had to hold his hand one more time- even if we weren't able to have an open casket or if I was too scared to look, but they reminded me, "It won't feel the same." I touched it- didn't hold it. It didn't. Often in bed too, at night- I put out my hand.

In the very first week or so, I was awoken by my husband's voice- as clear as day- clearer- whispering with heat in my ear. 3 something in the morning, I was dreaming other dreams in the background- this interrupted it. His words were pregnant with other meanings. I shot up in bed and was happy- I think the only time throughout this new reality.

I do believe strongly that there is much more going on than what we see in the natural world. I feel it all around me. I believe that the tragedy we're experiencing rips through the veil normally there and we see a much greater reality. It is our choice to run from it (because honestly it's quite too much to bear at times) or look it right in the eye for what it is- much more than what we thought was there. Overwhelming at times. Often I want to put it away and get absorbed back into life's petty details- but I feel it's a responsibility to keep it.

Angela and Hat- I also felt his presence in those early days in my apartment. I was so sure he was there, I'd go into the kitchen in the dark and call out his name quietly, "Dan?" Also- on the top of my head I also feel tingling from time to time. I close my eyes and something washes over me- not when I was expecting or waiting on it necessarily- out of nowhere. In my less skeptical moments (I had been a very strong follower of Christ for many years before this along with my husband) I believe that is actually God's presence comforting me and strengthening me. I have asked God to show himself to me in my desperation to not give up all faith and believe instead in a world of happenstance and chaos, and only once felt a response planted in my head: "You could not handle it." As despair-filled as not believing in anything other than what we see here is to me, sometimes believing in a God who is not a man with a long white beard but a being nothing like us that could create a universe- is frightening. It means we really don't know much of anything. But fear of God is also "the beginning of wisdom."

sorry this got so long...long day with an almost three year old- guess i needed to have "adult" thoughts!

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit." psalm 34.18