Monday, January 20, 2014

Human Touch

People need to be touched.

When our babies are born, we pull them up to our chests, their little hearts beating against ours, their skin against ours, their warmth entangled with our own. When we feel compassion for friends or family members, we reach out and touch their hand or pull them in for a hug. When we are in the various stages of falling in, or being in, love, we rest our heads on chests and drape our hands over knees. We wrap our arms around waists, we nuzzle into necks, we trace our fingertips gently along the lines of a body because we crave to be closer, closer, ever closer.

We need to be touched.

I sat in my best friend's kitchen one cold, gray day not long after my father died. She was cutting my hair, snipping away until she had finished. She dried it. And then she styled it, brushing it this way, fluffing it that way, smoothing it down. Tears streamed down my face as she did. It had been so long since I had been touched by someone who wasn't one of my squirming sons that I had forgotten what it felt like. Or just how much I missed it. My loneliness, my sadness, my longing, it streamed down my face.

Because she had touched my hair.

In the days between discovering the brain tumor and the surgery to remove it, my home was filled with friends and family. People I hadn't seen in years came to see me, wished me well. My living room, my kitchen, my dining room, they were full of people who brought me food, brought me magazines, brought me flowers, brought me toilet paper, brought me love.

But at night, the house was empty and still. And the very thing that was keeping me going during the day, this sense of strength that I had discovered, this certainty that I had everything I could possibly need in my life, even without a man, would crumble in the dark as I longed to be touched. Not in a sexual way. I wanted to be taken care of, to be comforted, to be held.

To surrender.

Just for a bit. Just until morning.

The last thing I saw before my surgery was my hand as they injected medication into the IV.  How many people had I touched, comforted, connected to with that hand? How many people had held that hand within their own?

I was staring at my hand, offering up gratitude for my life, for all the things I had done and felt and for the people I had loved.

For the people I had touched. For the ones who had touched me.

Because people...people need to be touched.