I laid my head on the side of the bed next to her. She was finally quiet. Maybe I could catch a few minutes of sleep. I had just closed my eyes when I felt her hand on my cheek. Her touch was soft and gentle...a caress. Mother was never one to demonstrate soft emotions. She was always strong and stoic. She seemed uncomfortable with a hug or a kiss. But this was definitely a caress. I opened my eyes and stared into eyes filled with sadness and remorse. No words passed between us. But I knew. And she knew. I kissed the translucent skin of her fingertips and she closed her eyes. In a few minutes the screaming would start again, but in this moment, I understood and I was at peace.
Now that she's gone, I cling to that final memory. It is my solace, my hug when the world is weighing too heavily on my shoulders. And I feel comforted. In these times, when families are fractured and scattered, I am thankful for the technology that makes them all feel closer and more immediate. I can reach out in seconds across the miles and send a "virtual hug" to those who need it. It's not as good as the real thing, of course, but it sends the same message: "I care about you. You will get through this. Everything will be alright."
The human touch is a marvelous thing. It requires no words. Its warmth and protectiveness penetrates the sadness and the stress and gives us strength. We must seize those moments when we are together to touch each other with love and reassurance so that when we're apart, we can find comfort in the memory of that moment. Sometimes just the reminder of a virtual hug is all we need to experience anew the warmth and support of the actual touch. I hope so.
So today, whether you think you need it or not, I'm sending a virtual hug to all my family and friends. May you feel the warmth of my love and support across the miles wherever you are and know that you are not alone. I am with you. I will always be with you.