When I first saw my daughter, she was swept away by doctors and nurses during an emergency c-section.
We didn’t hear her cry for a while. A while was probably 15 seconds. It felt like 15 minutes.
After she was cleaned, she was rushed to the NICU due to some complications. The nurses brought her to my wife for a kiss. My wife wouldn’t see her for 10 hours as they both recovered. It was a bittersweet and frighting time for our family.
Two hours after this exchange, I visited my daughter. Her roar was heard down the hall (a great sign given there were concerns with her lungs). I went into a small room, saw her before me and tried to understand.
She was covered in tubes and wires. She was in a plastic box surrounded by several other newborns. (Fully aware of the pain of the parents around us over the next few days, there was a deep sense of solidarity and prayers as we rotated in and out, visiting our children. Most faced taller mountains to climb than our daughter did and I pray for them and the babies presently fighting and healing in NICU’s at this present moment).
The first words I spoke were, “You are so cute.” Throughout my wife’s pregnancy, I would say, “she is going to be so cute.” I did not premeditate saying this to her. The words just flowed from my mouth.
Amazingly, she stopped crying. The nurse stopped in her tracks. She said, “she knows her daddy.”
In that moment, she wrapped her old man around her little finger. Then she wrapped her hand around my finger.
This was almost 8 months ago.
And every night, she holds my finger. Last night, I reflected on this journey. I was struck by the power of touch. With her crib next to our bed, my hand and wrist tightly fit through the white, wooden bars. This contact helps her sleep. It helps me too.
I know (and pray) there will be a day when she will hold my hand as she attempts to walk. And when she holds on tight before her first day of school. I also know there will be a day when she will let go. She will hold someone else’s hand. I hope this same hand will be offered to help a stranger and to lift up a friend. I pray her hand is opened in peace and not clenched in fear or anger. I pray she feels the love I presently own.
For now, I cherish this exchange each evening. Some nights it may last only minutes, while some nights it continues for hours. Within this touch is love: the love of a father and daughter. It is also the love that God extends to us, and through us.
As I count my blessings each day, this little girl and her heroic mother are on top of my list. I pray that in return, by extending my hand to others, I can be that same blessing for my brothers and sisters in need.
It is the power of touch. From the holding of a finger as a newborn baby to the care of our neighbors, we are invited to love. In this invitation, there is an opportunity. Together, let us recognize the power of our hands, and our touch. Let us be for one another that open hand in a closed world.