I lay my hands on his frail leg led by instinct and a desire to ease his pain. His love is strong, his body weak. My hands move slowly and infrequently. I feel a place of need and stay there until it is time to move elsewhere. I watch his face. Sometimes he tells me what he feels, and I tell him what I feel. Mostly we are quiet.
I am ok to stand here and offer my touch knowing that is palliative and not a cure, accepting that I can’t fix him. Easier for me than the others who stand around us. His family who are feeling deep, complex levels of sorrow. I love him, yes. Our history, though, does not compare with theirs and because of this I can be with his pain and not so distracted by my own. It is simpler for me.
Plus, it is a pleasure to offer any kindness to a man who has always been kind to me; interested, respectful, funny and warm. I feel privileged to tap into the energy of this artist, dreamer, Father, Uncle, Brother, friend.
I went to massage school because I believe touch to be profound. In the pursuit of knowledge and expertise I delved into the science, the muscles and techniques. The quest became concrete and result oriented. How to fix the problem? What tool to pull out of my bag? Just wanting so much to be effective.
But here with my hands on his leg, I tune in to feel him. Not his muscles or body parts, just him. It reminds me why I went into bodywork in the first place. To be effective, you must first be there. Intention supersedes technique. Touch is love.
I close my eyes and am fully present. No place else is calling my energy. Together, he and I silently agree to just be here, intent on quieting the pain, open to feeling what we feel. Being. Breathing. Now.
With loving gratitude to the beautiful soul who shared this moment with me. His spirit since has flown.
Photo courtesy of Thomas McDonald