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April Lu

Ms. Gardner

English 10H, Per. 6

30 January 2017

Bridge to the Heart

We all sat criss-cross applesauce on the dusty stage floor as we contorted our little first-grader

fingers into the face of a frog. The usual class story time had just begun and we must have been reading

Frog and Toad when the librarian, Mrs. Freeze, forged a frog from her own hands to narrate the story.

With her guidance after seeing our astonished, but confused expressions, we all tucked our pinkies under

our middle and ring fingers and put our thumbs and pointer fingers together for the mouth, and then we

stared with awe into the eyes of our own tiny frog faces. Of course, no one had any interest in the story

after that.

“Croak!” I mimicked as I opened my frog’s oversized mouth towards my BFF, Ashley

Brounstein. I looked down its wide open mouth, only to see a very real-looking frog throat (Well, I didn’t

actually know what a “frog throat” looked like). She too seemed mesmerized by its realisticness as she

mouthed Mrs. Freeze’s reading through her finger. I giggled in excitement. “I can’t wait to show Aaron!”

I half-whispered, half-shouted. My brother’s hand-shadow dogs were impressive, but wait until he see


Nine years later, I wonder if any of my old Sonoma Mountain classmates still held on to any

memory of that stress-free school day. Our “hand frogs” surely grew a lot larger as our child fingers

became the ones of high schoolers. I know Ashley would have, but I’ll keep it safe in the back of my busy

mind so that one day, I can bring the warm, nostalgic feeling to my worn-down friends. That afternoon

opened a new perspective of what our hands really do in life. We had used them to color pictures, to

practice printing our letters and numbers, and to stuff Goldfish and Graham Crackers into our mouths

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during snack time. I learned then that hands could tell stories—they could speak the words that our lips

could not.

As I grew and my mind continued to develop, I began to realize that hands could do even more

than just telling stories: they could make connections. They could touch the heart like no word ever could.

In this way, the hands have their own connection to the heart—their own bridge. The arteries protruding

from the heart connect to smaller veins that travel through the arm and the hand and even reaching down

to the tips of the fingers: “The ulnar and radial arteries carry blood down through the forearm into the

wrist, where they anastomose (join together) to form arches. These arches, along with several branches,

supply blood to the hand and digits” (Dummies). But these arteries and veins don’t strictly follow this

path, they branch out and transport blood throughout the entire body. In the same way, our hands can

connect to one person, who can then touch another’s life, and this can continue to spread through the

touching of people’s hearts until the connection flourishes and the difference is made.

I relate this process back to Kevin Laue’s story. After gaining fame from not only playing

basketball with a single arm, but also spreading motivation to students all across the globe, Kevin spoke at

my high school during the beginning of my sophomore year and made his connection with the entire

audience. His lower left arm had been removed at birth, but it never stopped him from standing up, telling

his story, and making a difference in many people’s lives. While his handicap cannot be rewarded for the

success of his achievements, the absence of his hand helped to speak his message loud and powerful.

Kevin touched my heart and my intentions with not only his motivating words, but also with his hand. I

could definitely say the same for almost everyone else in that audience. Kevin connected with every one

of us, and any one of us could turn on our heels and pass the connection on, just like how the arteries

branch out throughout our whole body, and then to even the smallest, least important corners and

protuberances of our anatomy. Maybe we could all make that connection with one other person, and even

then, the possibility of change has doubled its distance.

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The death of my guinea pig, Edward, played out a different kind of connection. I had left him

outside in the blazing summer sun for a little too long while I was cleaning my room. He fell nobly to a

heat stroke. Later on, I liked to joke about how Edward had died from too much sun (Yes, I did also have

a Jacob, and no, I did not name them).

What honestly terrified me the most was what my other two guinea pigs would think of me.

Would they notice a change? Would they realize that Edward would never return? Would they smell

murder on my hands when I reached into their cage for the food bowl? I knew that last one couldn’t be

true, but I rubbed my hands together behind my back for comfort as I stared plainly into his cold black

eyes. I was hoping that he would have stared back, but my eyes wouldn’t have known. Nevertheless, my

hands probably could.

Edward currently laid in my dad’s arms, as he roamed around the shady backyard, looking for the

right spot to dig the hole. “Let me hold him,” I pleaded when I caught up to him. I reached my hands out,

slow and shaking. My body was numb, but I needed to feel something—I needed to cradle his soft brown

coat in my hands one last time before I laid him down in the tiny grave underneath the diseased fig tree.

The tree expressed the emotions that my in-shock self just couldn’t show at that time: it stood drooping

with grief in the dark and lonely corner, having not bore any fruit since my parents moved it from its once

joyful, sunny home five years before. He was gone, yet I could still feel the same eccentric Abyssinian fur

in my hands as if nothing went wrong. If I suddenly became blind minutes ago, he may as well still

remain there, resting in my arms. Edward was gone. My hands, though, would rather lie to me.

Hands aren’t really meant to tell such white lies. When the monkey touched the searing stove, its

hands certainly did not lie. He never touched that stove again. In the same way, our hands won’t lie to us

when we touch something hot—our sensory nerves and spinal cord will instinctively retract our hand

before it gets burnt. My hands, however, really did lie to me then. My emotions searched every corner of

my body for just the smallest bit of comfort, and my hands volunteered as the desperately needed help.

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While we may not all be great at comforting others or ourselves, our hands naturally master the art. Not

only do calming voices bring us comfort; a gentle human touch can speak a million soft “It’ll be okays”

and “Everything will be fines.” Teen Wolf, the MTV show, gives its werewolves the ability to take

someone’s pain. Likewise in our world, a simple holding of their hand or a rub on their back can express

so many words of care and love. Our hands effortlessly make that simple connection of comfort that can

save a life in the end.

Unlike a high-reputation surgeon or hand model, my hands don’t control my entire life. Our

purpose is to create the connections that can change lives and cross the bridges that make the difference,

either big or small. Then, we can connect to the heart like our arteries and veins do; MedicineNet

describes it:

Vein:A blood vessel that carries blood that is low in oxygen content from the body back to the

heart. The deoxygenated form of hemoglobin (deoxy-hemoglobin) in venous blood makes it

appear dark. Veins are part of the afferent wing of the circulatory system, which returns blood to

the heart. In contrast, an artery is a vessel that carries blood that is high in oxygen away from the

heart to the body.

The arteries and veins pump life throughout a human frame that then becomes your vessel to carry out

your purpose. And what is life without trying to reach the heart across the river? Your words may sink

during the swim, but your hands can build a bridge.