When he was fifteen, he had surgery
and in the recovery room, he heard
the nurses talking. He asked if one
of the nurses would hold his hand.
He just needed someone to hold
his hand. The nurses laughed and
said that they were too busy to
stop and hold a patient’s hand.
Then one did. When he was forty-
eight and his wife died in a day,
the neurologists and neurosurgeons
were very busy diagnosing and prog-
nosing. When she died and he, the
husband, stood over her body, the
Episcopal chaplain asked if he,
the devastated, wanted prayer. He said
yes and the chaplain held his hand.
To this day, twenty-seven years later,
the man can feel the tenderness in
that touch and the humility in that
prayer. And now we have to separate,
keep our distance, not touch at all
in an attempt to stem the tide of
this virus, but the isolating, separat-
ing, distancing will only add to the
anxiety at a time when we need to
feel the tender touch of love.
Perhaps, for now, we need to learn
how to spell “vicarious.”