E used to be a very affectionate kid. Sometimes a bit too affectionate when her "tackle hugs" would crush you and sometimes hurt. My earliest memory of our relationship is cuddling her newborn self in my arms, singing her to sleep in her darkened nursery.
Since the accident, E shuns physical touch. Our touches are confined to fist bumps and the occasional shoulder squeeze.
This has been tough for me since I'm a pretty huggy kind of person.
Yesterday E had a big high school swim meet. It included public and private schools from the metro area (and a Olympic gold medalist to boot). The last few weeks have seen a marked improvement in her swimming, so she had high expectations for a good swim. The morning went well and in the evening she qualified for an A final (top 10) in 200 IM and a B final in 100 fly.
She was awesome. Not only did she swim a personal best, but set the school record in that event by a whopping 2 seconds. She dropped from 8th seed to 4th best and was barely touched out for 3rd. She got another junior nationals cut and was flying high. She went on to win the B final and her time was better than 2 swimmers in the A final. It was quite a night.
I am thrilled for her for all those accomplishments. It is great to see her get some results given how hard she works and the sacrifices she makes.
But let me tell you the best part of the night. She came up to where I was sitting, still dripping and wrapped in her towel and gave me a hug. E let me touch her. A real hug. I got a little teary as she rushed off with her teammate smiling and giggling to the locker room.
2:06.35. That was her time. I joked with her this morning that maybe we should use them for a lottery ticket. Those numbers have been running through my mind all day as I relive the night. I don't think about her touching the wall. My mind zeroes in on her smile, her towel and damp hair getting me wet, and the embrace I've missed.