Filling The Space Between
You come to me at the strangest times. I smell spaghetti sauce drifting from the neighbor’s house on a Monday evening walk with the dog, and I’m back in our little house on McKinley Terrace, with the hunger of a gangly, skinny teenager, sitting at the supper table.
The other day, however, something altogether different happened. My teacher asked us to imagine our own hands as those of a loved one embracing us, and there you were, enveloping me while I laid on my yoga mat, in our son’s empty bedroom. It was a gift of seconds, a hiccup really, like the silvery slice of breath that catches in the back of the throat. The unexpected is that miraculous.
“Seeing” my mother in the particles of light and energy floating in the air around me, was ethereal. She dissipated as quickly as my next thought, yet I clung to the warmth of that moment, reached for her like a veil of mist, even as she slipped through my fingers. The mind always calls for something solid.
This world and our lives in it are rooted in the physical. We plant our feet into the earth, and marvel at the gravity that holds us there. We reach out and touch each other, feel the skin and the muscle, press our palm against the beating heart, the warmth of blood coursing through our veins. We feel, in each other, the scientific, indisputable evidence of our collective presence. Until we can’t. Physical connection in the midst of a pandemic is something akin to summoning spirits, unsatisfying and often fleeting.
We’ve all had to redefine what it means to be in relationship with one another, as we learn how to connect in ways that feel physical, even when they cannot BE physical. We encircle our arms around air to create the latest incarnation of affection: the virtual hug. We talk between closed doors, wave through windows. We squint at fuzzy computer screens, stumbling over awkward pauses and taped delays. We mask up and step back, back, back…even as we yearn to uncover our smiles and run forward, into each other’s arms.
These days, I lasso my emotional connection to my adult children, pull them toward me through texting and phone calls, and meals delivered on doorsteps. Our children’s conscientious separation; their fear and anxiety-- the responsibility they feel toward us, this is a newfound love of another kind. I bask in their empathy with such maternal pride, but, even so, I miss their warmth, and I worry how this world, this year, will mark them.
A dear friend and Reiki practitioner recently told me that she feels pulled, after a few years away, to pick up her practice again. I am not blessed with her gifts, but I can understand why those nurturing neurons are ready to burst out of her. The ability to truly touch someone, to impart healing energy, without physically laying hands upon them, has never been needed more.
My mother’s fleeting embrace just skimmed the surface of my loss, but it delivered a gift of perspective, and an aching, over-arching awareness. All of us, out there--WE are still here. Beloved family, dearest friends, we are still together, even as we are forced to retreat from each other. Like all the pathways within our bodies, channeling light and energy; like every spirit shining down from every star; like a mother’s virtual hug on a miraculous Tuesday morning during yoga; we are all still here, buzzing beneath the surface and beaming out into the universe. Our humanity, fragile and flawed, in this life and every realm to follow, collects us and connects us.
A shot in the arm (both literally and figuratively) is coming, and with it, a promise that points the way, back, back, back … into each other’s embrace. Until then, the Heart: that small, beautiful, pulsing muscle nestled within our ribs, transcending the physical with every single beat, will lead us forward, and fill the space between.