Death has not touched us nor taken those we love in these past nine months. I know many have come to know and grieve the loss of loved ones. Yet all are touched by the virus I call Rona. All have been touched by death, or illness, or separation … by loss of employment, loss of income, reduced income, change in lifestyle … by restrictions on travel and spontaneity, all those things we take for granted, as our right … even “the right” to worship together which I find odd. All of us have been touched by one or many of these changes to living.
For me it was the simple act of touch.
Assigned to a list of “extremely clinically vulnerable” back in March by our government and medical people I spent the first lockdown without touch for three months. And nearly went nuts. With all this hi-tech, always-on, global-village, sophisticated and intellectually superior lifestyle and culture we have created for ourselves … being advised to not touch my loved ones was what tipped me over the edge (nearly).
My response was not “god” or prayer or breaking the rules to worship (with or without a mask – with or without social distancing) – it was to find ways to make my advised shielding effective for me (rather than the blanket advice to several million of the same label). With the help of others we found those ways. Medically and scientifically safe. Still shielding even as I was amongst those I loved again. I was able to touch those I loved and they me again.
Touch is not “a right” – touch is a need.
I never knew that before.
I have been safe from death and illness. Safe from economic ruin. Impacted by financial hardships and lifestyle changes. BUT … we had two holidays abroad that were safe and “Rona risk assessed” (as so much of life and living has become). BUT … those two holidays abroad were a direct result of finding ways to touch again safely. Because finding ways to touch while staying safe was massive. It made Rona an accepted part of living and life rather than a full-stop roadblock to life and living.
And with it kindness and gentleness and connection again.
And then we hit “Lockdown V2” in November. And again I had a letter advising me to minimise my risk. Again blanket advice for several million. My “underlying conditions” remain the same. But I have changed. I have learned how to touch safely. And in learning that have learned so much more.
Here is why …
“Last time lockdown was a decision made from indecision. This time no different but different. Last time was momentous, this time inevitable. Last time almost everything closed, this time everything isn’t. Last time it was accepted, this time questioned. Last time life changed, this time less so.
Last time childcare stopped. This time it continues. Last time our daughters and grandchildren were invisible and inviolate. This time we see them each working-day as usual. Last time touching was forbidden. Those we love, those we created, those who are our very lives. This time those few who are those few – those few we trust – those few we “know” – those few who are us and we them – those few we love … this time touching continues.
“Touching continues … ”
How I used to take that for granted. I watched wildlife programmes from a sophisticated intellectual detached entitled cultural distance. They preen. They greet. They ritualise touch. Not like us I used to think.
And then we didn’t.
We didn’t touch, shake hands, pat a shoulder, put an arm around another, touch another’s finger, stroke another’s back, rub feet with affection, sleep back to back – a leg touching a calf – a foot touching a leg – a hand touching a back – your breath becoming mine.
Is that “ritualised”?
Much as the filmed edited packaged presented and allegedly unsophisticated unintellectual wildlife doesn’t care – nor now do I.
I was made to love and love is touch as well as kindness. Love is your breath becoming mine as well as our spoken commitments and promises delivered. Love is being.
Love is touch.
Last time I never “knew” all this. This time I do. Last time was lockdown. This time lockdown again. The word is the same the science is the same.
But this time I am not the same. This time I touch those few I touch always and THIS TIME my wellbeing is well. This time …
My being is well.”