We always hear about “the power of touch,” but how often do we really focus on making it an integral part of our lives? We shake hands every day, give hugs frequently, but do we allow ourselves to be drawn into the meaning of simple human touch? I challenged myself to think back to profound moments in my life when touch spoke more than words could ever say. Because I touch people on a daily basis in my personal life and through my own career, this was tough – but two moments delved forward to make themselves known again in my mind.
1. The little boy
I had an opportunity one day to care for a little man who had gone through more suffering in his short years than I ever considered possible. His history was heartbreaking; not only did he face a life with facial deformities and other medical issues, but he was in and out of his home due to neglect. He was silent on the day I cared for him, thanks to a tracheostomy with “blow-by” oxygenation (the ventilation tube wasn’t connected to his trach because of the secretions expelled due to pneumonia).
I poked my head around the corner and my eyes met enormous, cautious brown globes. He was unsure of me, and I could understand this; he’d had so many strangers come into his life over the years – how could he develop trust with anyone easily? Over the course of the morning, those same eyes soon crinkled in quiet, raspy laughter as he tossed his crayons out the doorway. The brown eyes became liquid as they filled with tears when I had to suction his tiny airway. Finally, they closed with sadness as I hugged him goodbye for the day, feeling the heat of his little body through the yellow isolation gown I was forced to wear.
That one desperate, clutching embrace has stayed with me.
2. My grandmother
My grandmother was my best friend. In the end, she brought me to nursing because of her hospice nurses – they changed everything. I was so inspired by their selfless love that I changed my major almost immediately. To be close to someone as they transition into the next plane is something very special, and to be there with my beloved grandmother as she died is something I will always be grateful for. Today will be the first day I will work as a Registered Nurse; I didn’t plan it that way, but it’s fitting. The photo below was taken right before my grandmother passed away.
I encourage each of you to think of instances in your life when touch has positively affected you or the other person. Did a handshake make the other person smile? Did a comforting hand on a shoulder help to heal someone’s grief? Did a stranger guide you carefully over a bump in the road with a gentle hand on the small of your back?
I would love to hear your experiences. Share the power of touch with us!
This post was inspired by one of Corinne’s words: Discovery. The emotions felt during positive human touch aid in cementing our Selves a little more, and discovering who we can be.