Joanne bought a little notebook a while back that had two Panda bears on the front and said, "Romantic and with my small wishes" on it. It made her laugh because it was one of those things that comes over from China with whacked out English. Under the bears, it also said, "I feel the importance of human contacts by the skin." Which I told Joanne is, I guess, the writer's best shot at saying, "I need a hug."
So we're still trying to get Beatrice to sleep through the night. This means that I (Andrew) have spent much time lying on the ground next to her crib during the nights. I lie there when she cries and tell her it's OK, that it's time for sleep, that I'm not going to pick her up, but that I'm here and that she's not alone. Sometimes I reach my hand through the bars to pat her or hold her hand. It's funny. Sometimes, she'll just grab hold of my hand with both of her hands, and then lay her head down on my hand, like it's a pillow but she's got an iron grip on my fingers.
While I was lying on the floor, in the middle of the night, with my hand stuck between the bars of a crib, with my 12 month old Beatrice holding on to my fingers for dear life while smashing her face against the back of my hand, I thought of that silly little book that said, "I feel the importance of human contacts by the skin." And that was what she needed and she knew it.
I think we all need that more than we let on. We need a hug, a touch, someone to reach through the bars of our gruff exterior, or whatever way we've chosen to isolate ourselves, and offer us something to hold on to and let us know that we're not alone with more than just words.