What killed people wasn't a bullet, a blade, a fist to the face. What killed people was a feeling. Left too long. Sometimes in the cold, frozen. Sometimes buried and fetid. And sometimes on the shores of a lake, isolated. Left to grow old, and odd. 
—Louise Penny, A Rule Against Murder (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #4)

I held a baby the other day. She had not been eager to come to me when they first arrived. It was naptime. Mama walked her a bit, then swaddled and nursed her and she slept on her chest as we chatted.

When she wakes, Mama quietly walks over and puts the still-swaddled bundle in my arms. I tuck my cheek against her head and feel the weight of this little warm peanut. Still numb from the anesthesia of sleep, she doesn’t move . . . and I am not just great auntie in that moment, but mama again. It all comes back with the feel and smell of her. I think of Madeleine’s words. “I am still every age that I have been . . .”

My Grandma hugging each one as we arrive at the cabin. Pressed against a soft bosom smelling of yeast rolls. Beloved.

My grown son threading his fingers in mine as we walk downtown to a restaurant . . . across the grass to a gravesite, out of a hospital. The little guy who picked bees out of the mass of blooming purple ice plant when he was two, thumb and finger along their sides, holding them up to me. They never stung him. He’s fifty-two. No one else, besides my husband, holds my hand like that. Beloved.

My tall, beautiful, willowy daughter tucking a pillow behind my back when I’m nearly too exhausted to put myself to bed, pulling up the covers . . . calling me Mama and Little Becky. Beloved.

My youngest son making us dinner after his long day’s work, giving me a hug as we gather in the kitchen. It’s been a hard day. He keeps holding on, repeating words I’ve often said to him, “I can’t feel it yet . . . Deep breath, let it out . . . there it is.” Then he fixes our plates. Beloved.

My niece hugging me when I walk next door for dinner. “Ohhh, you smell like Stonecroft,” as if that were a wonderful thing. Beloved.

My guy and I standing in the kitchen in morning’s light, breakfast nearly ready. I haven’t fried the eggs yet. The bones of his chest pressing hard into mine, that chest that used to be so thick and strong, a cushion against everything. I kiss his neck, he my cheek and we stay this way breathing each other in, our morning ritual. He moves slowly to his chair and I fry the eggs. Beloved.

Touch teaches us who we are in context. We can’t survive without it.

6 thoughts on “Touch

  1. Excuse me, I’m crying. There are so many people in our lives who are beloved. I loved ready this. And the quote, I am still every age that I have been… That fits so perfectly.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. All I can say is, your lovely words speaks volumes! Always tugs at my heart strings! Hope all is well with you and “your guy”! Such a wonderful writer!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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