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  • An older woman grabbed my hand today. Her fingers were wrinkled like black velvet folded up and then unfolded leaving creases. They were bent. They were crooked, almost like claws. Yet they were soft.

    Did she shampoo her hands like they were hair? Or simply scrub them in lotion? Maybe it was her genes. Did she have her mother's hands?

    She folded her hand around mine, holding it tight as we walked outside. It was a thank you, something she couldn't say with words.

    Her eyes closed. She pulled her hand away and brushed them as she had earlier when she'd talked with the preachers.

    "I'm sorry to get so emotional." She'd told him, her voice as soft as her hands. She spoke as if she were at dawn, whispering as to not wake the world. She'd asked the preacher to pray for her husband.

    He was dying.

    Bladder cancer.

    She turned to leave then, whispering me a goodbye and another thanks. She smiled.

    She smiled. That's what amazed me most. Not the hand holding, but that smile.

    Her husband was dying. She was raising the children her children had abandoned. She was here at a free clinic getting food and clothes that she would not be able to afford otherwise, and yet she was smiling.

    I wish I could smile like her, be so happy even though things were going bad. Maybe if I tried I could.

    Instead of saying you're welcome, I told her thank you.

    That woman with her soft hands taught me to smile even if you think you have no reason to. To her there is always a reason, it's just about finding it.
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