The Touch

I Have the Touch*

Of a community that doesn’t want me afflicted.

Of literal embrace.

Of phones that would be answered in the middle of the night.

I am touched.

“Have you heard?”
“No, what?”
“I have Parkinson’s Disease,” I share my then-recent diagnosis as I join the parent posse outside of our children’s school.

“Oh, I’m…” says one of the fathers who squeezes my shoulder and looks into my eyes as he departs from the pick-up point toward his tyke. Later, I get a text apologizing for awkward words I’ll never remember.

“Your shoulder squeeze said it all,” I type back.

He has the touch.

Shake those hands, shake those hands•
Give me the thing I understand•

I’m not a particularly touchy person. It’s not a germ thing. Just a me thing.

But I have been touched. Deeply. Mostly by men, for whom words do not come as easily, since my diagnosis.

Eight months later at a school-related dinner party I tell the husband of an acquaintance that I’m a Twitcher.  Guess news doesn’t travel that fast.

“I’m sorry.”
“Me too.”
Our wide-ranging conversation continues. Only now it’s punctuated by his cupping my knee periodically — in a completely non-sexual, appropriate way — shaking his head “no” as he gazes with suddenly sad eyes toward the floor each time.

He has no words. But that’s okay, he says it all. He has the touch.

My hand moves out and, I have the touch*

At a luncheon, while answering one person’s questions about the reasons for my tremor – it’s shockingly true, not everyone talks about me – a lovely woman with her own challenges – more than she knew at the time — stands by us rubbing my arm.  The tenderness of her frail but fierce arm says it all. I am blessed.

At a joyous wedding reception as we catch up on news about the children through whom we met, an acquaintance insists on holding my left hand. My tremoring extremity. My Scarlet “P.” Her warmth and acceptance steady me. I am blessed by the grace in her grip.

I need contact*
I need contact*

If you don’t know what to say. That’s okay.

I have contact. I am grateful.

My support is unshakable.

*I Have the Touch by Peter Gabriel


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