Fifteen months into widowhood, what do I miss?
Touch and Talk.
Sex, yes, of course, but the desire for that pales beside the need to be touched. I have a serious case of skin hunger.
Couples who live together in intimacy take for granted the many times in a day when they touch each other, from bumping into one another in the bathroom, to fingertips brushing over a coffee cup or one cold foot seeking out the warmer one under the blanket.
I miss my husband's hands on my back, applying the suntan lotion in the hard-to-reach place; moving up and down with the zipper, turning my shoulders to the light where, his face a picture of fierce concentration, he would try to fasten a clasp on a necklace or that tiny hook at the top of the dress, swearing all the while. Then, when he had conquered that pesky closing, he would plant a kiss on the nape of my neck.
I miss his hip touching mine in the backseat of a taxi, his hand under my elbow when we cross a street, the pressure on my arm, holding me back when I don't see a car coming.
I miss that hand gently tucking an errant hair back behind my ear; at the back of my neck, pulling me into an embrace; two fingers pressed against my lips in a symbolic kiss or as a way of telling me to stop talking, that my worries are foolish. I miss the way he wrapped his arms around me in a hug, when he held my coat for me, the playful pat on the bottom in the kitchen; the hand clasping mine at a poignant moment in a film. I miss him pulling me into his arms to dance, feeling his body lead mine, one hand on my waist, the other in mine, our legs moving together in rhythm.
I miss his touch -- on my forehead, checking to see if I have a temperature, kneading a sore muscle --his hands, applying the band-aid, holding out the water and the Aspirin.
I remember now that when he came to the dining table, before he sat down he would just brush my shoulder. I hardly noticed it at the time. But was more than a touch, it was his way of saying "The food smells good, the table looks pretty, I am glad to be here with you." All that, communicated with the smallest stroke. Which I took for granted.
And it is that kind of talk that I miss, the kind that doesn't need words. The mutual irritation we would feel when some blowhard sucked all the energy out of the room and took over the conversation at the dinner party; the way, without a word or even looking at each other, we knew it was time to leave the cocktail party, turn off the uncivil television talk show, to have a drink, the moment to move into the shade, to go to bed.
I miss the verbal kind of talk too, the analysis of what went before at the end of the evening and above all, the safety in the security that, whatever we said, would not be repeated or held against us. But that kind of conversation disappeared from our marriage a very long time ago, swallowed up by that thief, Alzheimer's.
So, from this sad place of widowdom, let me urge each of you with loving, living partners, to cherish and acknowledge the insignificant, uncounted, taken for granted, touch and talk aspect of your life together.
Those are the things to treasure, they are what -- should life be interrupted -- you will surely miss.
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