Recently, I’ve had several beautiful and painful moments with my arms wrapped around someone I love. Or with their arms wrapped around me. They’re unforgettable moments: sacred hugs, a holy exchange of unconditional love. Holding each other. Not wanting to ever let go. Pillowed in between the feelings and raw emotions of it all. Feeling the weight of a painful illness, a shitty day at work, a difficult goodbye, an overwhelming sense of appreciation, acceptance, or recognizing our humbling dependence on one another.
I held my grandma in her bathroom today. The best that I could. I apologized for not being as graceful or skilled in maneuvering her as I would have liked. As I held the delicate skin and bones of one of the strongest women I’ve known, I also held back tears. I know a little of what it’s like, as a strong-willed independent adult woman, to be half naked in the bathroom. Fully dependent on another to help get to the bathroom or shower. I don’t know what it’s like to be a grandmother and to need your granddaughter’s help. So I hugged her. I wanted her to look in my eyes and know that it was an honor. A beautiful moment for me.
A sacred hug.
I wanted her to not feel like a bother but for her to know that it was a privilege that I could help her with an admiring granddaughter’s love. I lifted her towards the back of her wheelchair. I told her I loved her. It was a sacred moment that I will never forget. Her voice. Her eyes. Her arms wrapped around me. My long arms holding her frail body. I will never forget the love. The pause in time. Our two hearts beating next to one another. As long as I live.
I wished that every employee that helps with her care could see what I saw when I looked at her. A woman whose body ached most likely every day of her adult life but you would never know it. A woman who cares deeply for her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. A woman who could cook enough food for the masses. Made from scratch. Food that never had tasted so good before. A woman who always served every one else first and rarely sat down at the table. And if she did, she quickly got up to help serve someone seconds. A woman who tenderly loves the beautiful innocent creatures in life. A woman who can smile and appreciate the beauty left despite all that’s been slowly taken from her. A woman who shares humorous, meaningful and difficult stories of growing up on a farm. A daughter. A sister. A mother. A grandmother. A great grandmother. A kind, self-sacrificing and loving friend to all.
Usually when I’m leaving and tell my grandma that I love her, she says, “I know you do, Amelia.” Today, when I told her I loved her she replied,
“I love you too. Not just cause you help me.”
I don’t know how many sacred hugs I will get in my life. The ones I’ve given and received have held a glimmer of this indescribable kind of hope and love and this raw beauty that connects two human beings. In a hospital, on a driveway, in a bathroom, stuck in a moment with each other. Needing to feel loved and understood. No matter what.
We arrive into this world dependent on one another to survive. We need each other throughout our lives even when we can disguise our dependence. Even if when we can walk, talk and do things on our own, we always need each other’s love. Always. From the very beginning to the very end.