Touch me … feed me … understand me

The power of my daughter’s touch and the Family Table during the time of social distancing

My 17-year old, Mariela, reached across the dinner table last night – her hand outstretched with long fingers moving up and down like they were playing an invisible piano while trying to grasp something. I grabbed my phone to hand to her, thinking she wanted to take more photos of the Peas, Pasta, Parmesan and Prosciutto or Lemony Kale Salad we were eating. She looked me in the eyes and shook her head, fingers still grasping in my my direction. I handed her my napkin … she shook her head no again. My knife? Nope. She finally leaned over and grabbed the tips of my right fingers and pulled it toward her, squeezed my hand and looked me in the eyes, and smiled. It was the smile of admiration, gratitude, and love I remember from when she was eight and I was still her hero.

Recently separated from my husband of 20 years, my kids had been spending their second week of Spring Break at their dad’s abode. While I was enjoying the solitude I had the idea to invite them over for a dinner party. Because of the Covid outbreak the Town of Jackson forbid contact with anyone except your immediate family .. . and boy was I missing them. I took light a bunch of candles, refilled the toilet paper, and put on some dinner music. The dishes were done, the food prepped and ready to put in the pan when they arrived.

At dinner I sat next to my ex and we even held hands for a few minutes. The evening was packed with conversation about what we’d all learned from the Covid empass, hopes and dreams and silly things. Everyone had a “titch” of Cote de Rhone red table wine. Mariela’s gesture inspired us holding hands in a circle and singing an old La La Pillala loop de loo song we use to say “I love you and you and you and you” and point around the table. We used it instead of saying a religious grace when the kids were little. It had been a long time.

The family table has always been something that’s been integral to us, but something that was floating by the wayside as we went through the implosion of our marriage and our way of life in the Covid crisis. It didn’t seem that important while we were spending a lot of time together anyway – but really we were spending time in our own little virtual and outside worlds. Before lockdown we visited my sister in Colorado and it was the moment we all looked forward to.

It’s been a long road to forgiveness and appreciation for my broken 20 year marriage. Holding on to fear, resentment, loss of trust, disappointment and anger hasn’t served me. This crisis has put a whole new light on life and holding on to only the things – like my daughter’s hand – that nourish and fulfil me, my loved ones, and our greater community is my aspiration.

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