I’ve just spent an hour sitting beside Jody’s bed, holding her head and shoulder. She’s crying a lot about her cancer and her life. As Jody’s hair has been coming back over the past few weeks, I’ve enjoyed rubbing her head, letting my fingers flow through her hair. Not this morning, though. Just holding feels right.
Often in the past, I’ve sent loving thoughts to Jody as I’ve held her. A personal beam of energy aimed from one being to another. Not this morning. Sometimes I’ve practiced tonglen as I touch her, consciously taking in her pain on my inbreath and sending out love on the outbreath. But again, not this morning. Instead it’s just the contact, unmediated by thought or intention. It’s like walking on a coarse sand beach and coming upon a pocket of the finest grains. Not really better, I guess, just different, and what I’m drawn towards today.
I think of human touch, and the difference between the hand being still and the hand moving. I’ve received a lot of hugs in my life, and the ones I’ve loved have been still, rather than feeling that the other person was rubbing the skin off my back, or pounding me to a pulp.
On the other hand, Jody has enjoyed me scratching her back, getting all the itches out. She’s often marvelled at how I can find the spots that are driving her nuts. And one of our favourite activities has been Jody lying on the couch while I rub her feet. So movement of my hand can be pretty special too.
Then there’s the amount of pressure applied. Some of the hugs I’ve received have been crushing. This morning it’s been a gentle holding. No thought about how much is too much, just me wanting to touch my wife, and the details falling into place.
Holding hands is such a comfort, with the touch being just firm enough for communion. Jody and I have wandered many of life’s paths hand-in-hand. Such a blessing to have a life partner for silent strolling.
As Jody likely continues to decline, what can I give her? Some words of love, yes. The meeting of our eyes, yes. And holding her close, yes.