why am i still awake at 2:30 a.m.?! good question. i've been sick this week ... caught what marc and the kids kicked around last week, and ended up sleeping away monday and part of tuesday. i think my body is in a state of shock as to what to do with that surplus of rest, because the past two nights? wide awake. can't sleep.
but tonight one of the reasons i can't sleep is because i'm thinking. about many things, but about this in particular:
i had lunch today with my friend christine, and she mentioned that as she adjusts to the loss of her husband to brain cancer, what she misses - what, she's learned, widows and widowers inevitably come to miss - is the loss of skin. touching. the warmth of another person.
as i laid in bed tonight, listening to marc snore, i got to thinking ... if i were to lose him, i couldn't imagine the thought of touching someone else's skin. but at some point, i'm sure, human touch becomes so strong an urge, like a survival instinct, that you eventually crawl over that hurdle and begin to come alive again.
i've become a much more touchy-feely person than i ever thought i was. something about marc and the kids ... i need to touch them all the time. know they are there. let them know i am here. with my kids, it's a memory thing; to remember how small their hand is in mine, what the shape of their head feels like, that velvety-ness that is a child's cheek, that smooth space on the back of their neck. these things won't last, they change every day, and i won't always be granted access to stroke their hair, pat the bottoms, kiss their heads. but with marc, it's different. it's a spouse thing, i guess, but there's something so comforting in the tactile. rubbing my hands along his chest, smoothing my thumb across the scruffiness of his chin, tracing the edge of his lips - even though he hates it, but lets me do it anyway. it's how i end my day, just as the way he ends his day is to pat my rump one final time after i roll over to go to sleep.
there are so many ways in which we have a hold on the people we love, but shouldn't it all start and end with touch? when kids are born, they are immediately laid upon the mother's chest. skin is the first thing they feel in the outside world.
i recently read an amazing book called "here if you need me," by kate braestrup. her husband was a maine state trooper, who was thinking about switching careers to be a minister when he was killed in the line of duty. through her grief, kate decided to finish his dream, and herself became an ordained chaplain, working with search and rescue teams. now, while this is a powerful story, what does this have to do with touch? after her husband's death, she decided that she should be the last person to touch him; that he should not leave this world being washed and dressed by a stranger when it was her duty as a wife to take care of him.
that was so powerful to me, and it made me think for months: could i do that, if something were to happen to marc or one of the kids? then again, how could i not? i'm not sure i could let any of the three people i love most in this world be cared for by someone else in their final moments. i know every inch of each of them, know exactly what they feel like, and no one else could wash their faces, brush their hair, button their shirt with the love needed. i admire ms braestrup and the courage she had to request and then carry out that desire. and by golly, i will do my best to do the same if, heaven forbid, that day comes. because skin, touch, is the most personal gift we can give.
so now i'll head up to bed, and i'll pray for health to return to our house, pray for christine to find comfort, pray that she finds a new person to touch, if her heart opens up to that again, and pray that marc, whose skin i love and crave above all else, stops snoring. because i am ready to sleep.