Thursday, May 28, 2009

Aria's Toes

There really isn’t much need to preface this email other than to note the overwhelming need I felt at that time to notice every detail of almost everything. It was like I was scared to death the world I was seeing was suddenly going to be destroyed leaving no remnants of familiarity. I wanted to take in everything and burn it to memory, just in case.

Subject: Aria's toes
Date: February 3, 2008

Aria has great feet. I painted her toenails and fingernails while we
were in the hospital. I used this loud hot pink polish my dear friend
Angie gave us and it was the perfect color to contrast the sterility
of the hospital environment. It has been chipping off ever since but
Aria refuses to let me remove it completely and repaint her
fingernails and toenails!

Last week Wednesday January 30th, 2008, I was sitting in our second
floor bathroom with Aria taking precious notice of her feet. It is
important to know that the 3 bathrooms in this old farmhouse are all
really small and simple. There is a bathtub, a sink, a toilet and a
medicine cabinet above each toilet in each of these rooms. There is a
mirror above each sink with a few meager decorations here and there.
The second floor bathroom does not have any storage for towels and
the like, with the exception of a large piece of plywood acting as a
shelf running the length of the room against the main wall. Upon that
shelf, we store basic bathroom supplies; toilet paper, shampoos,
soaps, toothbrushes and so forth. It functions well but has begun to
sag a little in the middle. This bathroom, the one on the second
floor, has white 1 inch tiles on the floor with larger tiles halfway
up the wall with pink grout. I despise this pink grout and have ever
since we bought this house nearly 9 years ago. However, when we moved
in, I didn't want to go through the hassle of tearing out this old
ugly tile and replace it with something more my nature so I, instead,
decided to paint the walls and medicine cabinet and door. "What to
paint that matches pepto-bismol pink?" I wondered. I decided to go
'carnival-lolli-pop' and I painted the walls a wonderful purple color
with the medicine cabinet and long shelf and door a mint green color.
It is so hideous in some ways that it's lovely!

Aria was sitting on the toilet in the throws of her cramping 4 year
old bowels and I was sitting on the bathroom floor, on a purple bath
mat, leaning against the bathtub watching her, noticing her feet and
her toes. Aria's third toe on each foot curves in slightly toward her
second toe. It is adorable and unique. She has strong feet that are
wide and sturdy. I was sitting there with my legs slightly bent so
that my feet were resting just underneath her feet, which were
dangling. She was bent over, moaning a little. I couldn't see her
face. Her hands were holding on tightly to the toilet seat. "What is
she feeling?" I wondered..."What can I do?" I was completely
helpless. She didn't want me touching her and telling her that
everything was going to be ok seemed pathetic and a little false. I
sat there and breathed deeply. I closed my eyes and surrendered
myself to that moment. I simply wanted to be fully present to her. My
eyes were closed. I was relaxed and my feet and toes were slightly
bent upward so that my left foot and toes gently touched the bottom
of her right foot. The contact made me open my eyes and for a moment
I was nervous that this touch would upset her somehow.

Aria's feet and toes did respond, not negatively, but in a magical
way. Aria began weaving her toes into mine. She found the space
between my big and second toe with the space between her big and
second toe. Her foot being perpendicular to mine, she locked these
spaces together so our feet were connected. She did this repeatedly
and I found it so tender and so sweet. I just sat there watching this
footsie play unfold. She also used her toes to stroke the top of my
foot forward and back, forward and back...

It was a moment that was painful for her and yet she found a way to
comfort herself. The standard kind of touch and words we use to
soothe were not suitable to her and I knew that. To allow myself to
be fully present to her, to use me in whatever way she needed in
order to find some kind of comfort and reassurance was very
empowering. It was a moment of great humility for me because she
didn't want me on one level and on another desperately needed me
present. It was humbling to know that the touch of my feet was all
she needed and as it turned out was exactly what I needed too.


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