I remember the distinct thrill of first intimacy when a guy would reach for my hand for the first time on a date. The way his thumb might rub the top of my hand while walking, or draw pictures on my palm during a movie. Even better than a first kiss, sometimes, was the first time holding hands.
Or there were the times sitting in church with my Gram, when she would grab my hand and hold it throughout a hymn while we sang, and I would be struck by how close to her that touch made me feel. I would marvel at the coolness of her skin, papery yet soft as silk. The wrinkles and pale blue, raised up veins on the tops made me think somehow of her life and all she had been through for her hands to have gotten to this point. Her life had not been an easy one, but yet there she was, at peace, holding hands with me.
I never was first to let Gram's hand go. I practically held my breath until she did.
Then there is holding hands with my husband. No longer the thrill of the unknown, but the peace that comes from the known. Even better. The steady and always firm comfort. They seem to embody who he is. Never clammy, slightly on the dry side. Always warm and strong and capable.
Now I will confess that my current favorite person to hold hands with is my son. Three years old. If you are a mama of one this age you may know exactly what I am talking about. Not just the hand held out for you to grab before crossing the street or a parking lot - the necessary hand holds. No, even sweeter still are the moments he grabs my hand while snuggling on the couch. Or when I am laying in his bed holding him at nap time, hoping to God he will fall asleep soon so I can sneak out and get things checked off my to-do list, and then he grabs my hand. He'll squeeze it lightly, or rub his tiny thumb on my palm in perfect contentment until he drifts off to sleep.
When he reaches for my hand in those moments, it is like I am on a first date again, sorta. I am overcome by the intimacy. In those moments my to-do list flies from my mind and I am only wondering how long I can lay there just enjoying holding hands before I fall asleep myself.
We delve out hugs (well, if you are a hugger like I am) left and right, to relatives, friends, maybe even co-workers at times. A hug is great - it is sweet, commonplace, socially acceptable affection.
But grabbing someones hand, to me, is intimacy at its core. You can't do it without wanting a serious connection. The intertwining of fingers. Whether with a lover, a close relative, a dear friend, or, in my opinion, quite possibly the best hand holding -- with your child, who needs your warmth and trust and comfort and closeness.
And to be truthful, most days you need theirs just as much.