I have a bad reputation at work. People think I don't like to be touched. Sometimes it is true, but unfortunately at work I had to go there because I don't like to be touched when I am feeling anxious. I get this feeling of being closed in. Also, there are some people who touch you and it feels very real and leaves you warm. There are some people who touch you for whatever reason and it feels very insincere and almost worse than if they hadn't tried at all.
But touching is one of those things that in the right moment is exactly what the doctor ordered. So imagine my surprise at church yesterday when I almost reached out and rubbed the back of the woman in the pew directly in front of us.
Truth be told I often congratulate myself that since my mom died I do not spend every day curled up in the fetal position crying. I actually congratulate her because I think it speaks volumes about how I was raised and our relationship. Quite honestly, if I did not have my own daughter to love and care for the whole grieving process would have been uglier, longer and really quite disgustingly pathetic.
But, if you are a frequent guest of this blog you know that although I miss mom I believe she is with me still in many ways. I push the wanting of the human person out of my head and most days that works fine. But yesterday at church I was reminded how much you can miss someone's touch.
There was a sweet little old lady in front of us. At first I didn't notice anything special about her that caught my eye, but whenever I am around older people at church I always start to notice them at the sign of peace. Many older people only like to wave because the risk of germs is just not worth the handshake so I try to be perceptive and not reach my hand out if it will make them feel obligated. The first thing I noticed about this lady was her purplish bruised looking arms that were just like my mom's. In my mom's case it was medication that made her skin paper thin. She would often have bleeding under the skin that would cause these purplish spots. If her skin was even rubbed against roughly she would start to bleed and so often she had band-aids up and down her arms. I could not help but notice the band-aid on this woman's arm. I decided right then that this was going to have to be a very gentle hand shake because perhaps this woman had Rheumatoid Arthritis like my mom and a handshake that was too hard could hurt her for the whole day. I debated leaning down and telling my daughter to be gentle but then realized my daughter would be just as perceptive if she saw a person like her grammy.
This woman may have needed a gentle handshake but I will never know. You see when it came time for the sign of peace she turned to me with both hands and hugged my little hand within her wise, mottled hands. The strength from those hands was one of peace and kindness. That is when I missed all that my mother was. She should still be here today giving out her love and comfort with her warm hugs. Watching House Hunters with her granddaughter and laughing like a maniac at all that she finds humorous. For the rest of mass it was all I could do not to lean over and rub this woman's back.
I wanted to hug my mother today, but instead I got to feel the kindness and warmth of a stranger's touch. Do I think my mom sent her to me....what do you think?