Last night was one of those nights when my bed became the gathering place for my kids. I actually enjoy these nights, periodically. I’m not sure what prompted it… no storms, no bad dreams, no fevers — just a need to gather together. I like watching them as they drift off to sleep. My youngest has a habit of placing her foot in a position so that it barely touches my leg — as if she just needs a slight bit of reassurance that I’m there, with her.
When I was around 11 years old, I began sharing a room with my sister who is just a couple of years older than me (up to that point I had shared a room with my brother, I’ll skip those stories — they involve smelly shoes). We have always been complete opposites in our looks, our personalities, our interests. We were constantly reminding people that we were sisters. She was always soft-spoken, shy, nice, vulnerable — people were drawn to her, to protect her. I was, well… the opposite. I was outspoken, witty, never shy, always the first on the dance floor, never in need of protection.
We had twin beds that were parallel to each other in our room. We would laugh ourselves to sleep very often — comparing our days… our differences were minute to us. But very often, when she was just on the verge of sleep, my sister would hold her hand out across the span between our beds and insist that I grab hold just until she was asleep. I reluctantly complied — usually. Once she was asleep, I let go and drifted off myself. I actually liked holding her hand.
I don’t know what it is about human touch — why it’s so important. I often think about children who grow up in environments that are not nurturing, that don’t promote touch — hugs, hand holding… all absent. It must be incredibly stifling to live in such a world. Painful even.
My sister and I aren’t that different anymore. She has learned to be out-spoken and strong while I’ve learned to be a little vulnerable and hold on to a friend’s hand when needed. A simple human connection can be all that’s needed to steady a shaky composure… to quiet a wandering mind… to calm an underlying tension.
So, I like those nights when I can provide that for my kids. Once in a while, a simple connection can assist in a much-needed sleep. Once in a while, a simple connection is all that you need.
So, by now you’ve discovered my love of the word breathe and my need to be reminded to “just breathe”. This incredible visual art representation of the word, by the incredibly talented Judy Clement Wall, helps me remind myself. I also am a fan of Kahlil Gibran — thought you might enjoy this poem.