He looked up, as startled as I was. That's how long it had been! But, he didn't let go, or shake me off. Instead, he smiled. And it was wonderful! A rare gift that I'm not likely to get again, or at least not more than a few times, before he finds another hand to hold.
There comes a time when our children no longer allow us to smother them with touch. For some--like The Storm, so concerned with the judgement of her peers--this comes early. When your child pulls away to avoid a schoolyard hug, you remember it, like a fist to the gut.
Other times it's more subtle: A few wiggly fingers aside an over the shoulder smile, while she hustles past the threshold of a friend's home, her pillow tucked under her other arm, to let you know it's too early, or too late, for a goodnight kiss.
Other times, it's so gradual that you can't even remember when you last held your son's hand, or even when you stopped. Sixth grade? Fifth grade? Fourth?
Before she left for the weekend, I wrapped my arms around Sunshine to say goodbye. In that embrace: relief, love, fear, hope, need, and even my baby girl, so that we stayed that way, pressing on each other's backs, and folding into the other's shoulders for longer than either of us expected to.
It was a little like the moment in traffic with Hollywood. Something that surprised us both, but something we both needed.
"Mom, did you know that it's been proven that holding hands and hugging reduces stress?" (Hollywood, of the app generation, has recently stumbled upon a trivia one.)
"I did know that. But I'd forgotten. Thanks for the reminder, Buddy."