“ Now I stand here, feeling the cool air rush over my body, as Luke steps back into the house. I crouch down and wrap my arms around his body, and he stops and pushes back against me."
I wake up and walk down the long hallway into the living room, cracking the door to let Luke out to the yard. Birds whistle back through the open doorway, and I can smell the pine trees that sore above the roof. I stand in the frame and let the cool air waft past me. I remember last night and slipping my hand into the hand of my date as we left the restaurant, and how soft and firm and warm it felt. I am lonely. The past two years of isolation have been a reaction to someone who married me then decided he did not love me. Up until that day, I was hugged, held, and intimately affectionate. Although I come from a childhood with abuse and an adolescence of literally no physical connection, I have no problem telling someone how I feel, or making love. It is something I am proud to be able to experience and share, but not easy to get in return. Two years ago, it was not only taken from me, but my right to experience affection was suspended as I was put into a healing and limbo I did not cause or desire. Since then, wounded and repairing, I have rarely been touched in a loving way, even while being pushed to discover my strength during incredible moments of survival. Last spring, I left a week wired in a cardiac center to go home to an empty bed, where I learned to breath and walk again by myself. Now I stand here, feeling the cool air rush over my body, as Luke steps back into the house. I crouch down and wrap my arms around his body, and he stops and pushes back against me. I hold on for a long time and he allows it, finally turning his head to lick my face. I am not afraid of what will come next. I am not afraid to be alone. But I am lonely. I think of how my heart raced a little when I kissed my date goodnight. How the echo of this house might be filled with laughter, or how I will hear my name being called down the hallway to find the lost remote. When the sound of Luke’s leash might unhook from his collar as someone else brings him in from a drive to the park while I am reading. To sit side by side on the sofa, laptop open, deciding which color of roses to order for the yard along the fence. To be a part of something bigger than my own survival, a little older and a little wiser. To be seen. To be loved. And especially, to be touched.