I am posting the unedited version of a story which was published in April for those of you who have not had a chance to read it.
Next week I will be posting a great new twist to those New Year's Resolutions...don't miss it!
The Touch of a Hand
Extraordinary events happen. They are often labeled as miracles, luck, fate or chance. We recognize them most often when life appears bleak, with little hope.
So it was for me. A ray of sunshine broke through my dark clouds—an unexpected acquaintance—when I began to work with a fellow tradesman who shared similar values, work ethic, and passions. He brought freeing laughter to my days, which seemed a foreign language to me; it had been eons since I had laughed hard. Tears of glee would stream down my dust-covered face, followed by involuntary snorts of delight that erupted into embarrassing bubble blowing… from my nose!
Laido had a strange sense of humor and a peculiar habit of hugging people. He hugged the general contractor, the subcontractors and even the clients! My German background limited touching to a minimum, and as the only woman on the job it was absolutely off limits. This six-foot, 210 pound giant of a man, with a shaved head and two curved earrings in his left ear, was the spitting image of Mr. Clean. I, in contrast, stood only five feet, one inch tall, and weighed 110 pounds. His tough exterior proved to house a warmth and softness I had not known before. My heart, on the other hand, was fiercely protected by iron bars and armed guards on the ready to shoot down anyone or anything that attempted to come near its fragile core.
As a 33-year-old single mom, I lived alone with three small boys, struggling to patch our broken hearts together in hopes of better days. I operated my small Jill of all Trades business, attended school and strove to raise happy, healthy, young men. Depression and anger seemed to lurk around every corner: I fought the dark enemy at my bathroom mirror daily with a resolved cry of “CAN!” I became an expert at “pulling up my boot straps,” although I found it harder and harder to convince myself that life would get easier and I would find my happiness again.
One day, as we bounced down the mountain roads in Laido’s Ford Excursion to the next job, he turned to me and said, “I believe God put us together for a reason. Maybe it is friendship, maybe it’s so you can help me with my school, or maybe it is for something more.”
To which I bitterly replied, “Oh yeah? Well, you can wish in one hand and crap in the other and see which one fills up faster!” I had lost nearly all my love for a God I did not understand. I claimed a belief in a God—just not one that gave a damn.
Laido gazed at me with cautious resolve and tried again. “Can I just touch your hand?”
My heart filled with fear and reproach, but as I turned to him, his face radiated love and concern; I begrudgingly agreed. The touch of this gentle giant sent a loving energy coursing through me that was real and true.
He said softly with tears in his eyes, “You just need somebody to love you and I can love you.”
A small crack appeared in my armor while tears rose inside me. I feared the chance that love was real and tangible. My heart had been hardened for so long, but maybe, just maybe, he could love me.
In the months that followed, the firing squad around my heart was slowly dismissed one by one. I experienced a love and friendship that set me soaring. Not only me, but my three precious boys now had a man to love them in a way they had not known in their young lives. One step at a time, with love as my protection, I stepped out of my prison of fear and into the joy of life.
Now, nearly four years later, we have overcome many tribulations touching ourselves, our children, our finances and our spirituality. Slowly we climb together, bettering ourselves with every step, filling our every cell with love and light. We have been blessed with Alaya, a new little angel, who is the glue to our family and reminds us of the love and hope that each of us holds inside. The journey, although arduous, has been more rewarding than I ever could have imagined and we are making our dreams a reality.