Last week I drove 400klms to sit with a very dear friend’s father. I sensed the end of his life was possibly close and I wanted to be with him, one last time.
I entered the room and there he lay, propped up on the bed amongst lovingly knitted bed covers and carefully placed pillows. His breath rattling, his eyes drooping, he was a shadow of the wiry farmer I had known. Despite having not seen him for over a year, there was no hesitation in me, as I made myself comfortable sitting on his bed and reaching for his hand.
As we held hands I felt the power of life in his faltering yet strong grip. Words could not be formed, nor did it feel they would find meaning. Instead skin-to-skin contact offered all we needed…an affirmation of our existence.
A week later, the community gathers, the sun shines, the birds sing, as he is buried in a country cemetery.
Men shake hands, women hug and children clasp to their parent’s legs.
Many cups of tea and stories told the wake comes to an end.
I hold his daughter, my dear friend tight, our cheeks pressed firmly up against one another, as we say goodbye. We live far apart. We may not see each other for another 6 months, but hold each other as if our bodies will remember one another, long beyond this moment of embrace.
As I drive home along a country road in the golden glow of the late afternoon light, I ponder the role my body plays in making sense of my own and other’s existence.
Like a watermark, the imprint of the other stays in us long after they are gone.
I walk into the kitchen, and hug my husband and my children deeply.
Reflection - I invite you to consider the power of presence in physical touch...how it moulds us, how it enriches us, and without it, how it depletes us. Ponder what imprint you are leaving on the world, and how others have left an imprint on you?
(Trained as a whole-body focussing oriented therapist, Sarah is an experienced counsellor, who invites her clients to find healing and transformation, through the wisdom of the body.)
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