Friday, January 11, 2013


My uncle died yesterday and it is fine. It isn't fine, not really, it's awful and tragic and unexpected, but it is, and it will be, and I will go home on Monday and grieve with my family on Tuesday and make them chicken soup and lasagna and pie and anything else I can wrap up with foil and pack in the refrigerator with love, my version of love, made with my own hands.

My stepfather makes everything with his hands, large capable hands, the hands of his brother, the hands of his family. They were born to make, to fix, to build, and to mend.
Most days, my hands do nothing. They type and they scrawl and they accomplish nothing. My hands are soft and they are useless. My stepfather's family's hands are roughened and calloused, moving with sure and steady precision, capable. So capable. When I fell in love with Derrick, I fell in love with his hands first-- large and roughened and capable, born to mend and to heal. They were hands like my stepfather's. Hands that I needed.

I was born to fix sentences, not things, not people. I know where to put the noun and where to put the verb. I work in a language created by humans when they tired of grunting and pointing to indicate meaning. That's what I do for a living. I indicate meaning. I grunt and point. Eloquently.

My uncle fixed cars. My other uncle builds cabinets. My stepfather crafts parts. Capable hands, sure hands, hands now left idle in their grief, hands struck dumb at the sight of the casket.

And so I will go home and I will do the only thing my hands can do, the only place they are sure. I will roll dough and chop garlic. I will cover myself in flour. I will roll and wrap and simmer and stew and keep them busy. Make myself useful. I will listen. I will stand quietly. I will bake.

And I will grieve.


  1. Oh Nicki, I'm so sorry. Thinking of you and your family. XOXO

    (This post is lovely. So full of love and emotion and truth.)

  2. My dear darling one, I am so sorry for your loss. And I know that grief makes us feel some really shitty things--aside from the obvious loss, and I do not feel guilty when I say that I think I know grief as well as any person could--so I will give you some quarter, HOWEVER, (it's there always a "however" or a "but"?) your hands are far from useless.

    "Most days, my hands do nothing. They type and they scrawl and they accomplish nothing. My hands are soft and they are useless."

    Wrong, wrong, wrong.

    Your hands type and scrawl and CREATE. They accomplish movement, they accomplish emotion and are far from uselss. They create worlds and visions and feelings and LIFE. In the face of death, words are often the only things we have left. I used an ocean of them to built my life again when all was gone.

    And also, could your words really be nothing when it was they that caused ME to fall in love with YOU?

    1. And seriously, will I ever stop making such motherfucking awful typos?

      (I hate my brain. And my fingers. They don't cooperate.)

    2. I couldn't have agreed more with Kat... and I'm sorry I'm just NOW seeing this. You are an incredible person, Nicki. Your uncle sounds like someone incredible, too - so grieve, because so many people pass without someone even so much as caring they did.

      I feel helpless and useless that a measly comment is all I can offer, but know there are many of us with outstretched arms from across the internet... and we love you oh so much!

  3. i'm sorry for your family's loss nicki. being with your loved ones and time are the only things that ever help that get better.

  4. *Hug*

    My thoughts are with you and your family.

  5. I'm really sorry to hear this, Nicki. Sorry for your loss.

  6. Sorry to hear of your loss. And I ditto what Kat said, there's no way I could have said it half as good as she did.

  7. Much love and healing energy heading you way. I hope you get to smile, laugh, and remember him well. I hope you get to hear stories about him that you've never heard; I hope you get to be amazed. Luv ya!

  8. Sending you hugs... if I were there in person they would be accompanied with wine. xox

  9. Awesome post, so moving. Nicki, so sorry to hear about you and your familys loss. Sending you warm internet hugs.
    Hands are WHAT?! Useless you say? Tie them behind your back for a day, you'll see. :-)

  10. Beautifully written. Unfortunate it had to come from something tragic. Life's a bitch. Hope you're feeling a little better by now...


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