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This week I read that it had been one year since the identification of the Covid virus in Wuhan, China. My life has changed so much, as I’m sure yours has.

I am aware today of things I had never considered before.

I have an older brother, Gary, who resides in Florida. We used to speak by phone at least every few weeks. During this year, Gary fell and has been hospitalized since early summer. Due to the virus, he is not able to have visitors. As I engage with my brother, I am becoming aware of things I had never considered before.

Due to the magic of Facetime, we now visit by phone every single morning. I read the morning devotion from Guidepost magazine and it often sparks a conversation from our memories, our perspectives, our faith, or our hopes. Then I share the morning blog from a favorite author Sean Dietrich. If you have ever lived in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, or North Florida you would enjoy him. Sean writes about life in the South, including wonderful tales of churches, potlucks, ‘church ladies,’ and college football. Oh, and bacon! Each day we share a laugh or a poignant moment. I am aware that this morning visit has become important to both of us. I am able to share in Gary’s recovery and increasingly enjoy his companionship, especially when my visits with others is curtailed. I love that I can be really present to my brother, and I am more aware of and grateful for the technology that makes the visits possible.

This week Gary told me he had gotten a haircut, his first since late Spring. I was surprised because I would have thought the facility would have scheduled it more often. And then I thought, well why doesn’t he ask for one? Gary told me he does not have a mirror he can see into when he’s in his wheelchair or his bed. He had not seen his own reflection since June. He had no idea his hair was so long. It took me a day to wrestle with my feelings. I think how often I look in a mirror, or at my reflection in a window. I am wondering what the emotional effect is if I could not see myself for a period of time. How much do I depend on that to validate my existence, especially during these times? Does not seeing his reflection make him feel that others don’t ‘see’ him either? And how many people are living in facilities where that happens. Mostly these people are currently denied visitors, so they also never see their loved ones, and receive affirmation of their loving gaze and meaningful touch. Even the amazing caregivers have so much on their plates it is hard for them to take time to be fully present with each patient.

I miss those touches too, and hate that I can’t give ‘Happy Birthday’ hugs, or ‘I’ve missed you’ hugs, or ‘I share your pain’ hugs. And I am so grateful for the Zoom calls where at least I can see those I care about, even if ‘it’s just not the same.’ But I am now aware of and concerned for those who are isolated by the virus and who need a loving touch, and to be ‘seen.’ As I look at the scriptures, Jesus was always touching people and looking into their faces and their hearts. The medical community is warning us that the effects of prolonged isolation may be long-term.

And I am now very aware of the caregivers who are trying hard to take the place of family and friends for these people. I am grateful to and for them.

And I am increasingly aware that the gift of touch and being seen that Jesus modeled are things we need to give each other often. Jesus touched the sick and the dying. And he lovingly looked into the eyes of those who suffered and gave them hope. I eagerly await the time we can truly ‘reach out and touch’ each other again. And I plan to stop and really ‘see’ people as I encounter them. And I am grateful for the new awareness of my need to be present to others, to myself and to God.

After writing the above article and sending it off to the amazing Carla Whitmire, I arose this morning to read Sean Dietrich’s blog on the Love Drug of touch!  I always am delighted when God affirms my thoughts with his sense of humor and great timing.

Check out Sean Dietrich’s blog for February 1, 2021 and read his words.  Thanks again, Sean, and God!”

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