Since I wrote this piece, I lost the ability to touch my parents. I last touched my Daddy on May 21, 2010 at about 11:45 p.m. I rubbed my hand across his forehead and asked if he needed anything. He asked for a drink of water and I got one for him…and touched his hand as I took the glass back from him.
I last touched my Mom late in the evening on December 10, 2010….holding her hand as she drew her last breath. My Daddy died early on the morning of May 22, 2010 just minutes…perhaps just a couple of minutes before I could get to where he was….his forehead was still warm. But, I was too late to be there at the very last…which I deeply regret.
Out of all the senses that we as humans possess, I believe that touch is the most important.
For over 37 years now on most nights, I rub my wife’s back while I read and she is going to sleep. It’s sort of a habit now, but many times I do consciously think about it. I don’t think anything symbolizes love between two people more than touch does. I feel very grateful that I have been allowed during my lifetime to touch so many people that I love. I feel incredibly sad sometimes that one day I will not be able to touch those people any longer. Either I will move on, or they will and that ability, that privilege will be lost.
All three of my kid’s were touched a lot by my wife and me. I can’t count the times I heard people say: “You’re going to spoil that child by holding them so much!” Not so. I don’t think you can hold a child and love them too much. You can figuratively hold ON to a child too much and do it for selfish reasons, and cause problems. But to hold and lovingly touch a baby or small child? Nah. I don’t believe that. I think (I hope) our three children are well adjusted. Sometimes if you can’t even bring yourself to say the words “I love you” a touch will suffice. It will communicate that love. Don’t get me wrong though, I think it should still be said with words. The people you love NEED to hear it, for confirmations sake. But at the very, very least give them your touch.
Now, our grandchildren have also been given the same treatment as our children. Both by us, and by their parents. I still sometimes hear “You’re spoiling them” but at this point I don’t care.
Even if they had been blind and deaf like Helen Keller, they would have known, someway, somehow that they were loved. They would have known by touch. That’s all that Helen Keller had to go with, and look what a human being she turned out to be! Just through touch and touch alone.
Many times we look but we don’t see, and we hear but we don’t listen. We taste this wonderful life and then never give it a second thought.
Our other most powerful sense, the sense of smell we reserve for our subliminal memories most of the time. We catch a sniff of something and a memory automatically pops into our heads. Sometimes pleasant, sometimes not. But touch is the one that we have to consciously associate with things. It serves us well as a protector when things are too hot or too cold, and we might remember when it saved us from getting badly hurt because of that. But, to associate touch with love is something we don’t often do. It’s something we have to learn to do.
Even when we are touching someone in an act of love, with love, we have to teach ourselves that that is the reason we ARE doing it. We have to teach ourselves that touch is best.
Michelangelo painted God with his hand reached out towards Adam in an effort to touch him. That is the most poignant scene of the entire Sistine Chapel ceiling to me. God reaching out to touch us, to imbue some of his spirit and his soul to us through his all powerful touch. I think he touched us, but do we appreciate it? He reached us, but do we think about it? That touch made us what we are. It elevated us above the state of being just an animal and imbued us with a spark and a soul that will never die. Wasn’t that a wonderful gift?
I really believe that when we die that our sense of touch is the last thing to go. I can’t say for sure, I haven’t died yet and hope not too for a while longer. I HAVE seen many people lying in a hospital bed unconscious and seemingly oblivious respond to a slight squeeze of the hand, or a brush to the head. I know that they know that someone they love is reaching out for them, and touching them. I think as people slip out of their human costume and into their next form, that when that last vestige of touch leaves them, that last connection to everything they have been and are leaving behind, that there is just a moment of sadness that is felt before the call of the next form of existence takes over.
I don’t think that touch will be a part of our next path….a least not the way that we know it in this life.
Think about it next time you touch someone you love, and revel in that moment. You never know when those moments are going to run low…..and then run out. You might regret that lost opportunity. I don’t want to.