Dying Hands

By Don Pio

The last time we wintered in Puerto Escondido was 2002 and there was no sculptured figure at that time. I checked with City Hall and was told that it was erected in early 2004. It is quite probable that it was erected in the month my wife died. A coincidence or something more?

Puerto Escondido is a fishing village on the Pacific Ocean, 300 miles south of Acapulco. Our two favorite beaches there were Playa Manzanillo, great for swimming and collecting shells, and Playa Zicatela, for walking its broad white beach.

My wife, Carol, died February 4, 2004. I promised myself that I would fly to Puerto Escondido and scatter her remaining ashes across the waters of Manzanillo beach on the anniversary date of her death. As the anniversary date neared, I booked a flight making sure that I would be in Puerto on the fourth. Afraid that the memories shared would be too painful to recall, I was reluctant to go. However I did go and I thank God that I did because something wondrous happened.

To appreciate what occurred, you need to know that for the year after she died, I had a persistent mental image of Carol. She was propped up in bed with her hands outstretched in a posture that looked to me as one attempting to ward off death. How wrong I was. I woke up on the morning of the fourth and from my bed across the room found her dead in that position. This image would pop into my head night or day. It made me terribly sad to picture over and over again the last moments of her life.

After scattering the ashes, I walked over to Zicatela beach. To get onto the beach, you have to climb up and over a rock formation. By this time the tide was in and getting dark and unless you wanted to get soaked, you had to wait until morning and low tide. I could make out in the darkening shadows something rising out from the rocks. From the angle and distance, it looked to be a single raised hand. There was still enough light to take a picture.

We had climbed over these rocks dozens of times and there was never any statue. I became very excited and felt a strangeness along with a heightened sense that something was going on that I did not understand. I felt the palpable presence of Carol. It was so strong I reached out to touch her. I was too agitated for sleep, so I sat on the beach for what seemed like hours, trying to sort out my feelings. I felt both sadness and joy. I could not think any more. I went back to the hotel and that night for the first time in a year, I dreamt of her. A sweet dream and I woke up happy with a profound sense of relief, as though a heavy weight was lifted from my shoulders. 

I was up at daybreak scrambling over the rocks leading to Zicatela beach to get a closer view of what I could barely make out in the dim light of last night. I saw not one hand but rather a pair of hands outstretched reaching up through the blue sky to the heavens beyond. It was a huge piece of granite sculpture, 20 feet tall, anchored atop a rock face. It was exactly like the image that has been haunting my thoughts and dreams for over a year. I knelt in the sand making the sign of the cross thanking God for this revelation.

The most telling part of this sequence of events was that if I stayed away not keeping my promise, I would never have seen the stone hands. To look upon this monument of stone and to take comfort in its very existence was for me a message from Carol telling the family she was not repelling death but embracing a heavenly life and for us not to be so sad but to rejoice with her. Occasionally the image pops into my head but I no longer see death, I see everlasting life for I know Carol is in God’s hands.

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