My Husband and I Didn’t Hug For a Month6

Author : kawughebat
Publish Date : 2021-05-02 17:42:21
My Husband and I Didn’t Hug For a Month6

Ed and I hug daily. It is our go-to expression of love that isn’t forced or demanded. Our calm, warm embraces are gentle and calming — they lower our blood pressure and help keep us connected. Hugging was so natural until Ed contracted Covid-19. The illness was frightening; the separation next to unbearable. Isolated in the bedroom, Ed and I were no longer able to hug at all.
No matter how painful distance can be, not having you in my life would be worse. — Anonymous
While most Ontarians are faced with a fourteen-day quarantine period, the professionals told us Ed’s liver transplant made him capable of shedding the virus for longer. They directed him to isolate for twenty days which later was extended. Ed made it his mission to do whatever it took to not pass the virus on to me. While he fought against the deadly illness, neither of us expected the lack of physical contact would prove to be one of the hardest parts of all.

When Ed was feeling up to it, I’d sit at the bedroom threshold where we conversed, joked, and laughed. But loving words and chicken soup can only get you so far on your road to wellness. Ed told me he longed for the day he could hold me. I think the vision helped pull him through.
Laughing together is as close as you can get to a hug without touching. — Gina Barreca
Day Twenty arrived, and we received word that Ed could come out of the bedroom, but we were encouraged to keep our distance from each other for yet another week. As we sat together on the couch (socially distanced) and passed each other in the hallway, we were closer in proximity but no closer to physical intimacy. The sexual tension wasn’t our reality. All we wanted was a hug. A simple hug.

When Day Twenty-Eight finally arrived, Ed pulled me in, and for what seemed like a blissful eternity, he didn’t let go.
My favorite place is inside your hug. — Anonymous
Couples often take each other for granted. I am fortunate to have a husband who doesn’t miss a day telling me how much he loves me, and I reciprocate in kind. Our daily hugs have resumed, and greater intimacy followed.
Why was missing the physical contact at the forefront of this journey? I wondered whether it was the fear over whether Ed would survive the deadly virus that increased our longing to connect or whether having a lack of physical intimacy triggered a physiological response.

According to science, being “touch starved” is a reality, and those who suffer from it experience little or no touch from living things. During the pandemic, people are struggling to cope with the inability to touch. No longer are there days of handshakes, pats on the back, or even fist bumps. People are losing the ability to experience the joys of touch found through the release of oxytocin, the feel-good hormone that many of us crave.
Ed and my failure to reach out to one another had a physiological consequence that transcended beyond the mere emotional yearning to bond. It affected our nerve endings, the oxytocin system, and other stress-relieving hormones. This being said, I was not quick to dismiss the gravity of one over the other — emotional vs. physical. Both left their mark on keeping us feeling emotionally low.
During our separation, I noticed coping differences in terms of physical distancing. When I was nearer to Ed, we had a greater desire to be physically connected. While speaking with Ed from the bedroom’s threshold, we developed a greater desire to hug than when I was lying on the couch in the living room talking via our cell phones. It was perhaps, for this reason, that we spent hours apart.
While the cliché that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” may speak to emotional connection, for us, it was the absence of physical connection that made isolation so hard.
Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation. — Kahlil Gibran

When we were forced to spend time apart within the confines of the same condo, there was a helpful solution to ease the distancing — herein lay “our cat.” The animal-human bond was none other than amazing. Especially when sharing life between two humans turned stressful, our pet’s presence helped ease the strain.
During the first two weeks of having Covid-19, Ed weathered the symptoms, and he slept a lot. We noticed our cat, Skye, seemed to know to keep her distance. We weren’t sure if she suspected she could catch the virus or if she wanted to give him space.
In time, Skye started to visit him often. While we weren’t happy she was coming in close contact, I didn’t have the heart to lock Ed in a room for a month behind closed doors, and we had no other usable room to lock up the cat instead. Nor did we think it was fair.
Skye has a special relationship with her daddy, and I’d often find them napping side by side. I think her presence and soft fur aided in his lack of physical human contact as it did mine. In fact, Skye formed a bridge for us. When he touched her, and then I touched her, it felt like we were touching each other.
During isolation, Skye acting as a conduit between Ed and me made life easier for us. But nothing compared to the day Ed and I reunited. While cat love is real, for Ed and me, nothing beats a hug!
We are putting our brush with Covid-19 behind us and are not taking our hugs for granted. The next time you’re able, put your arms around a loved one.

Being a first-time mom is stressful enough. I can’t imagine raising a baby in a foreign country, without my parents or friends to rely on for support and babysitting help. It’s also difficult to fathom the idea of giving birth alone, with no partner, mother, or friend by your side, and only a limited understanding of what the people around you are saying.
That’s what my mom (whom I call “Ma” in Chinese) had to do when she gave birth to me alone at the New York Infirmary, surrounded only by English-speaking medical staff. My dad (“Ba” in Chinese) had dropped her off and then had to rush back to teach a class.
Ma immigrated to the U.S. as a newlywed after marrying Ba. He was in a Ph.D. program in Electrical Engineering on a full scholarship and managed to secure a visa to stay in the U.S. afterward.
Despite her limited English fluency and unfamiliarity with American culture, Ma carved out space for herself and our family in a new land. Ma is the one who had to learn about American culture to help her American-born kids feel normal. She played Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny (none of which existed in her home country).
Ma is the one who attended every basketball, volleyball, softball, and soccer game I played. She had to figure out how to make small talk with the American moms while sitting on the sidelines.

Laughing together is as close as you can get to a hug without touching. — Gina Barreca
Day Twenty arrived, and we received word that Ed could come out of the bedroom, but we were encouraged to keep our distance from each other for yet another week. As we sat together on the couch (socially distanced) and passed each other in the hallway, we were closer in proximity but no closer to physical intimacy. The sexual tension wasn’t our reality. All we wanted was a hug. A simple hug.

When Day Twenty-Eight finally arrived, Ed pulled me in, and for what seemed like a blissful eternity, he didn’t let go.
My favorite place is inside your hug. — Anonymous
Couples often take each other for granted. I am fortunate to have a husband who doesn’t miss a day telling me how much he loves me, and I reciprocate in kind. Our daily hugs have resumed, and greater intimacy followed.
Why was missing the physical contact at the forefront of this journey? I wondered whether it was the fear over whether Ed would survive the deadly virus that increased our longing to connect or whether having a lack of physical intimacy triggered a physiological response.

According to science, being “touch starved” is a reality, and those who suffer from it experience little or no touch from living things. During the pandemic, people are struggling to cope with the inability to touch. No longer are there days of handshakes, pats on the back, or even fist bumps. People are losing the ability to experience the joys of touch found through the release of oxytocin, the feel-good hormone that many of us crave.
Ed and my failure to reach out to one another had a physiological consequence that transcended beyond the mere emotional yearning to bond. It affected our nerve endings, the oxytocin system, and other stress-relieving hormones. This being said, I was not quick to dismiss the gravity of one over the other — emotional vs. physical. Both left their mark on keeping us feeling emotionally low.
During our separation, I noticed coping differences in terms of physical distancing. When I was nearer to Ed, we had a greater desire to be physically connected. While speaking with Ed from the bedroom’s threshold, we developed a greater desire to hug than when I was lying on the couch in the living room talking via our cell phones. It was perhaps, for this reason, that we spent hours apart.
While the cliché that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” may speak to emotional connection, for us, it was the absence of physical connection that made isolation so hard.
Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation. — Kahlil Gibran

When we were forced to spend time apart within the confines of the same condo, there was a helpful solution to ease the distancing — herein lay “our cat.” The animal-human bond was none other than amazing. Especially when sharing life between two humans turned stressful, our pet’s presence helped ease the strain.
During the first two weeks of having Covid-19, Ed weathered the symptoms, and he slept a lot. We noticed our cat, Skye, seemed to know to keep her distance. We weren’t sure if she suspected she could catch the virus or if she wanted to give him space.
In time, Skye started to visit him often. While we weren’t happy she was coming in close contact, I didn’t have the heart to lock Ed in a room for a month behind closed doors, and we had no other usable room to lock up the cat instead. Nor did we think it was fair.

Ma also largely raised my brother and me since Ba was so busy with work. Ba stepped in when it came time to discipline us, share a life lesson, or provide help with Calculus.
At the same time, Ma also leveraged her accounting skills and pursued a full-time career. She left a job with Atari, a cool computer game system company, in the mid-80s because the schedule just didn’t work out with picking us up from daycare. I still remember playing Centipede in their arcade room when she had to work on a Saturday.
Ma needed a job where she could start earlier and leave exactly at 4:30 pm so she could pick us by 5. She found a good job at the local community college district and stayed there for more than 20 years. She was always the one whose job offered health insurance for our family as my dad was launching his small business.
Together, my parents’ dual-income and frugality provided my younger brother and me with a solid middle-class childhood. By the time we reached high school, we were upper-middle-class, with the extra funds to afford a third car so my brother and I could drive ourselves to school and extracurricular activities.
Ma even earned a master’s degree in organizational development when my brother and I were in high school and college. She wanted to rise higher into management and juggled the program on top of her full-time schedule. When she retired with a pension, I was thrilled for her. She could finally rest and enjoy a slower pace.
Every kid asks their parents about their childhood. Ma often replied that she didn’t remember much. Yet she did share two stories from her childhood:

She used to jump up to try and touch the ceiling to grow taller. Ma thinks it worked because she’s 5'6" (which is unusually tall for women of her generation born and raised in Asia). Her brothers are both about 5'10" and their American-raised sons are all over 6' so I really think her height was due to genetics. That didn’t stop Ma from trying to discourage me from playing basketball and volleyball, though. She thought all that jumping was making me too tall.
When Ma was a child, her dream was to be a stay-at-home mom who played mah jong (the Chinese tile game). I was shocked when I learned this as a child because her adult life was so different than what she had dreamed of as a child. She followed her husband to a foreign country, leaving everything she knew behind, and had to work from the moment she landed here. We rarely saw her play mah jong.
Ma worked full-time outside of the house for over 30 years before she retired with a pension. She always told me, “Anna, you have to have your own money. It gives you options.” To her, earning an income meant she had more power in her marriage and could advocate for herself.
Ba is a traditionalist who believes in pretty strict gender roles. He never changed a diaper, never picked up around the house, and never got involved with the day-to-day parenting tasks (e.g., reminding us to brush our teeth, making sure we had clothes and shoes that fit, remembering to sign the permission slip for field trips). Even now that he’s the grandfather of four, Ba still hasn’t ever changed a diaper or fed a child. That’s always been Ma’s job.
Even though both parents worked full-time outside the house, Ma had a demanding second shift when she came home. In my earliest memories, I recall her being exhausted and stressed. I can imagine the issues she dealt with in the office as one of the few young Asian women in a largely white male-dominated tech industry in the early 1980s. Then she would arrive home drained but still face the challenge of feeding and caring for her kids without any help from her spouse.

Each of my widowed grandmothers came to live with us for a few months or so on and off throughout my childhood. But that’s not the same as having a partner who shoulders half the household responsibilities.
Moreover, the fact that her parents and friends were on the other side of the world most of the time meant she didn’t have a social support network like I do today. There were no days off for Ma. Unlike my brother and me, she couldn’t rely on the doting grandparents who could watch their grandkids on a weekly basis. Ma never had a “Girls’ Night Out” to let loose. The only time I recall Ba watching us without Ma is when she returned to Taiwan when her own mother was dying of breast cancer.
My parents were too frugal to pay for long-distance calls to their parents and friends. Thus, my mom would write letters home instead. I remember seeing the nearly transparent paper with vertical lines, her Chinese script running up and down instead of left to right like English. I imagine she lamented how tired she was, how stressed she was about working and living in America. Life was not what she expected it would be.
Yet her sacrifices, her willingness to learn a new language and culture, and her perseverance meant that both her kids have had wonderful opportunities. 
She did it all because she loves us so much. We have much easier lives today because of what she and Ba sacrificed for us.

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