‘We drove past a homeless man. ‘If you aren’t going to give him money, mom, we have to make eye contact.’: Mom urges ‘in a world without human contact, smile with your whole damn face’

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“Apparently, I love touching people.

I know that doesn’t sound good, right? I have never considered myself a very affectionate person, but now that the common rule of law is DO NOT TOUCH anyone or anything, I realize this is really, really hard to do. Today I learned just how much I like touching people–and how often I do it. I touch strangers, family members, adults, and kids and I like it. We checked into the Great Wolf Lodge for a much-needed getaway and within hours I had touched so many strangers without a second thought.

I touched an employee who was helping me check in and then I touched a stranger as I tapped him on the shoulder to ask about the waterslide he had just gone down. And then I saw a young child struggling to get in his raft for the lazy river and I instinctively reached out my hand to help him. And I felt guilt every single time and that is just so sad. Human touch…human connection is so very important, and to be living in a world where it just can’t be for the time being is so sad and worrisome.

Courtesy of Suzanne Eileen

On our drive here, we drove past a homeless man who stood on the corner of 95 South just before the George Washington Bridge. I was stuck in traffic and didn’t know where my purse was and I was so totally stressed about the cars that were cutting in and out of traffic and risking our safety that I just couldn’t track down my wallet to help this man. My kids asked, ‘Are you going to give him money, mom?’ Because usually, I do. But today, I didn’t. I was stressed and quickly snapped at my kids to get them to be quiet so I could focus on driving.

Courtesy of Suzanne Eileen

And my daughter’s response surprised me–she said, ‘Okay, well if we aren’t going to give him money, we have to make eye contact with him.’ Her CCD class had a group of formerly homeless people come speak to them about their experiences. One of the men said the best thing you can do when you see a homeless person is to make eye contact with them. He explained how many people go out of their way to avoid eye contact when they see a homeless person. And then the man said that it made him feel like an animal when people wouldn’t look at him–but when someone drove or walked by and made eye contact, he was reminded that he was human and with the eye contact of a stranger, he was offered the gift of human connection, which is invaluable.

And that my friend, is the truth–you cannot put a price tag on human connection. I am so sad for the world right now as we try to navigate the circumstances that are telling us to distance ourselves now more than ever. I am sad for our kids who will hopefully go to school in the fall but won’t get hugs or high fives from their teachers like they used to. I am sad to meet new people and just stand there awkwardly and say, ‘Hi nice to meet you,’ when I really wish I could shake their hands.

I feel sad for children who can’t visit their parents or grandparents and the grandkids who desperately want a hug from their nanas and their pop pops. I feel sad for those who are newly dating and trying not to get physical and I am sad for those people who crave human touch. And to top it all off, I feel sad that so many beautiful smiles with the power to uplift others are now hidden under masks.

But we still have eye contact and as that man told my daughter, it can spark connection, warmth, and love so do not underestimate the power of your beautiful eyes. So, use your eyes, friends. Make intentional contact with as many people as you can every damn day and when your mouth is covered, smile with your whole damn face.

Let’s just hope and pray and remain faithful that one day we will return to shaking hands, hugging, and high fiving the hell out of each other. Until then…let your eyes do the shining.”

Courtesy of Suzanne Eileen

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Suzanne Eileen of Simsbury, Connecticut. You can follow her journey on Facebook. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more from Suzanne:

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