To be touched by someone else is a simple pleasure. I am speaking about physical touch. Being held, being caressed, being kissed by someone we love can bring about feelings of comfort and peace. I believe touching and being touched is essential to our well-being.
My husband and I held hands. We held hands a lot. We held hands while driving, walking, and even falling asleep at night. For me this simple gesture assured me that someone was present to me. It assured me that I was not alone. It assured me that I was desirable and loved. I felt all this, simply from holding hands with someone I loved. I’m not big on the old-fashioned PDAs (public display of affection), but holding hands I love. There is something about the intertwining of fingers, the gentle squeeze and caress that is so sensual and almost a covert way to let someone know that you want to be with them.
I miss holding hands. I miss that simple gesture that assures me that I am not facing all this alone. I miss being touched. Guess what? Right now I am alone. Right now I’m all I have. Right now, I am lonely and want someone to hold my hand and let me know that all is well and I will be okay. It has been a long time since I have felt this assurance, this desire, this togetherness. It has been such a long time since someone has held my hand.
Holding hands is such a simple gesture, but so intimate and complex. Now, I’m not completely devoid of human touch. I hold my kid’s hands, hug them, kiss them, and love on them, but we all know that is a different thing.
I think missing hand holding is just the tip of the iceberg for me and it is the lack intimacy of relationship that leaves the gaping hole in my life. I feel very fortunate to have had a loving, happy, honest, yet imperfect relationship with my husband. Even with all the gratitude that comes with that, I still feel the vacancy being without it brings. It’s not just being alone that makes me ache. It is the details of being alone. The simple gestures that are missing that heighten my heartbreak. The memory of having it somehow can make the loneliness more acute some days.
Years ago, I wanted to volunteer to help others. It was the first step toward who I became as a minister. It all started with wanting to volunteer to hold sick babies. I had heard about it and thought that it was important. So, I searched for opportunities to do this. I came across an opportunity with the Foundation for the Blind. I spent time with blind infants while their parents attended educational opportunities to help their children and themselves adapt to life with blindness. It changed my life. I learned touch was one of the main motivators toward development for blind children. For children who could see, sight motivates most development. Through touch, children who can’t see found motivation to do the things that we who see take for granted.
Maybe there’s another volunteer opportunity hidden in my need to hold hands. Maybe we who head down the road of healing after loss could hold each other’s hands. Maybe we could sit with some one and quietly hold their hand assuring them that they are not alone. That this is a shared journey and that we are still loved, desirable, touchable. Through our touch, we would feel less alone, less abandoned, less sad. Through our touch, hope would prevail and surviving alone can be transformed into living joyfully again.