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TOUCH

It was love at first touch.

I reached for my daughter aching to finally hold her, to smell her, to inspect her, to stroke her delicate skin and touch each of her tiny fingers as they wrapped around one of my own, clinging to me as if somehow sensing our connection was about to be cut.

But at that moment I knew nothing could ever sever our connection, that much I was sure of as I looked into her eyes, seeing her beautiful soul for the first time since leaving my body.

Two years later I am reaching again. This time for my son. Aching to finally hold him, to smell him, to inspect him, to stroke his delicate skin and touch each of his tiny fingers as they wrapped around one of my own, clinging to me as if somehow sensing our connection was about to be cut.

But nothing could ever sever our connection, that much I was sure of as I looked into his eyes, seeing his beautiful soul for the first time since leaving my body.

From the moment they were born my children’s lives were shaped by the gentle touch of love coming at them from every angle.

From my breasts that filled their bellies, and my fingers that traced circles across their skin or stroked their backs as they drifted off to sleep, or from my husband’s rough, callused hands that gently washed their slippery bodies in the sink and tapped their backs to bring up burps as he bounced them while they danced around the room together.

From the rough tongue of the cat who insisted on tasting them and the long wet tongue of the dog when she was allowed her turn.

From the outstretched arms of family and friends who all longed to hold them close to their hearts while they smelled their heads.

And from the rest of the world that welcomed them as well.

The blades of grass and grains of sand that tickled their feet. The snow that soaked through their mittens and the sweat that wet the back of their necks under their formidable snowsuits. The snakes and salamanders that slithered through their slender fingers and the tiny yellow buttercups held under their chubby chins.

And from every winged thing that ever sang to them. The robins and the red-winged blackbirds signaling the return of spring. The melancholy lullaby of mourning doves outside their playpen as they napped outside on a warm summer day. Or the red-tailed hawk screeching as it circled the sky far above their tiny heads.

And from marvelous, mysterious things that grew out of the ground. Not only the flowers that filled their nostrils with their delicate heavenly scent but from all the wondrous things growing in our garden, like the bright green feathery carrot tops that were grasped by tiny hands and tugged from the ground like a magic trick.

As they grew their understanding of the world grew with them.

They learned that the world is meant to be touched.

“We are something for the world to run up against and rub up against: through the trials of love, through pain, through happiness, through our simple everyday movement in the world.” – David Whyte Consolations

By the end of their childhood, they had learned that tongues stuck out to taste snowflakes or lick ice cream from a cone before it could melt, could also be used to lash out in anger, forming words that could injure someone as easily as the blade of a knife.

And they learned about pain. Broken bones and broken hearts initiated them into the painful ways of the world as much as spending a day at the beach or an afternoon snowmobiling had introduced them to genuine happiness.

“Being alive in the world means being found by that world and sometimes being touched to the core in ways we would rather not experience.” – David Whyte Consolations

Preparing matchbox caskets for hamsters prepared them for the further heartbreak that would inevitably come to visit them, teaching them lessons no one wants to learn. Like the sadness and grief that never completely goes away after you are touched to the core when someone you love dies.

They both have friends that are no longer with us. That’s not something I ever experienced as a child, but sadly they have.

Freak accidents and suicides claimed lives cut way too short but also taught them an honest appreciation for life that they otherwise would not have learned at such an impressionable age.

From the beginning of my story of becoming their mother, I tried very hard to make another sort of impression on them – that they both become independent of me as soon as possible. I felt a fierce determination about it. It was almost irrational, this fear I had that something might happen to me or my husband or us both, and then what would happen to them?

Because of this, I felt an urgency to raise them in ways that would empower them (they had their own checking accounts before they were even teenagers) and ignite a strong sense of self-confidence in them, which is something I never had.

I also felt an even greater urgency to find ways of reminding them of just how much they are loved every day.

The devastation I felt after my first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, had me feeling extremely fragile for a long time. I remember reaching an arm out to my husband randomly but regularly for just his touch reminded me of his love.

He would clasp my hand in his and give it three soft squeezes – I – love – you, and with that simple touch, that brief reconnection, I would feel better.

After my children were born, I started doing the same with them.

I could be driving home in terrible traffic with both the kids in their car seats in the back seat sensing my stress, and one or both of them would lean forward with their hand held out for me to take. I would feel the three squeezes take a deep breath and immediately feel better, all without any of us saying a word.

Over the years I tried my best to provide them with all the love and support they needed to figure things out on their own and live with the consequences of their choices and actions, but I firmly believe that exposing their bodies and souls to the touch of nature every day made them who they are every bit as much as my husband or I did.

With the dawn of every day, we’re all touched by the world in a myriad of ways which grows our love for it and for each other in ways I will always be profoundly grateful for.

It was love, unconditional love, at first touch.

 

PART I OF III

NEXT WEEK: UNCONDITIONAL

About Amy

I am many things to many people. Daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt, friend. I am a worshiper of nature on a journey inward, rewriting my story one word at a time.

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