It’s been 7 weeks, 1 day, 12 hours, 15 minutes since I’ve touched another human
being besides my husband. For huggers like myself, this is painful, but thank God
this pandemic didn’t happen in the Seventies.
Back then we were limited to land lines that delivered only voice; snail mail for
relaying messages and sentiments (no fax machines until the 80s); and minimal
entertainment options in the home—those limited network shows could only be
watched once and at their designated time.
Today, we can reach out and virtually touch anyone, anytime, anywhere from the
socially distant comfort of our homes. Thanks to smart phones we talk, text, tweet,
and send photos and videos to our loved ones. Thanks to social media we share
our stay-at-home stories on Facebook, have Happy Hour on Zoom, and touch
hearts through GIF’s and Go Fund Me campaigns. Thanks to 24/7 news coverage
we can tune in to the latest updates, or via Netflix, cable, and streaming options we
can blissfully binge and tune it all out.
As much as our love affair with technology minimizes actual physical contact with
living beings, we still bemoan that very loss as one by one we cross social events
off our calendars. The meet-up for coffee with a friend. The church service and
potluck on Easter. Opening day for the Rockies. The visit to celebrate Mother’s
Day with Mom in assisted living. The canceled writers workshop with colleagues.
Children’s high school graduations and weddings. The list goes on.
This virus has inflicted untold suffering through death and financial losses, but
perhaps it’s also awakened us to what’s important in our lives—to who and what is
essential. Is it a grandparent in a nursing home that spurs us to check on elderly
neighbors and pick up groceries for them? Are we at last realizing the value of
those who provide for our safety, health, and other vital services when we gather
scraps of fabric to create masks for health workers or step out on porches or patios
to cheer for first responders? Is it a bestie across town or a supportive co-worker
that makes us stop—six feet apart—and chat with a fellow walker and his dog
instead of rushing by with our eyes glued to our phones? When we go outside for a
bit of exercise, are we more grateful for that breath of cleaner, fresher air—perhaps
the first the World has experienced in some time?
Unfortunately, social distancing is likely to continue off and on for many months to
come. Will we lose our need for intimate human connection? Or will we retain
that biological drive to reach out and touch someone, as promoted by AT&T back
in 1979? I’m using my alone time for reflection and writing. But you know what?
I could use a hug. How about you?
Diana is a Baby Boomer, diehard Beatles fan, and now an Author on Amazon.