The miracle of touch
He put down his soup spoon, closed his eyes, and ever-so-slowly let his head droop down to his chest, as if it was connected to his lungs, and as his breath escaped, slowly — slowly — his strength ebbed with it.
He seemed unaware he was sharing a table with my mother and me in an almost-full dining room. His breathing was slow and soft, and I watched his face.
He folded his hands, eyes still closed, and rested them on his chest.
I leaned in closer to his face. “Tom? Are you ok?”
Without opening his eyes, he said, “I don’t know. I don’t think so. Maybe I’m dying. I’ve never died before and maybe this is how it feels.”
Then, a long pause. He opened his eyes and smiled at me, “It’s ok because I don’t really think this is living anyway.”
George Santayana, the philosopher, said, “The world is so ordered that we must, in a material sense, lose everything we have and love, one thing after another, until we ourselves close our eyes.“
Tom is 94. He is my mom’s friend and table-mate at an assisted living care home in northern California. I’ve watched Tom physically decline in just a few months, and I know — he knows — his time is short now. And because of all he has already lost, including a child when she was young, and his wife, he’s fine with that.
He just wishes it could be less uncomfortable.
If you have the time today and the patience, you can witness a little miracle.
We cannot physically touch every one of our listeners, but we can touch them emotionally every time we speak.
Real connection always involves emotional connection.
Tomorrow, when you’re on the air, find a way to touch me, to reach my heart, to make me feel, so that we both sing the same song.