A morning of soccer, my body aches. I treat myself to a massage, communal style. A whispering masseuse directs me to my waiting bed, among several others. I sit on its edge, a steaming tub of water soothes my tired feet, calloused and sore. She stands behind me and holds a small patterned apron across my chest as I breath deeply and struggle to remove my damp sports bra. Strings pull tightly under my arms and across my back, and then relax as she completes the knot, holding the apron in place.
My neck, shoulders, and back exposed; I am calm, my breathing deep, eyes closed, head bowed, and hair tousled. I had removed the rubber bands, leaving them in my car’s dusty cup holder, forgetting I would need them to pull my hair up and away from my neck and shoulders. I wished for a moment that I had remembered to bring at least one hair tie with me. But before my thought is complete gentle hands work to pull my hair away from my face, fingers comb through the tangled mess, and carefully she tucks stray strands behind my ears. She does this several times, so gently, until my hair cooperates and is fastened into a loose pony tail.
This gentle taming of my hair seems to last an eternity. This simple gesture releases sweet memories, silently tears stream through closed eyes, soaking my cheeks and neck. I let them flow. And, I allow myself to remember, to feel, the loving touch of every hand that has ever gently brushed my hair from my face . . . to see my eyes . . . listen to my stories . . . or soothe my worried mind. The memories are vivid, as though I am having a beautiful dream. I savor the moment.
As she begins the massage, first with my face, I wonder if she notices the sticky residue of my tears. I imagine she is accustom to such a response and I am not embarrassed. I have to believe she realizes the power of even her incidental touch, so simple and so tender. She is a healer.
It’s late. I’m sleepy. I close my eyes, run my fingers through my hair and smile . . . .