I know the importance of human connection. 💕
Thirty-two years ago I gave birth to Andrew, a beautiful little boy who, while receiving his two month baby check, was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot, a heart defect requiring him to undergo immediate open heart surgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. I learned to navigate the hospital ins and outs pretty well considering I stayed at Andrew’s bedside for his two and a half month recovery stint. Over that time, I got to know his sweet roommates. We shared a large room with three other infants, one of whom shared the same name, Andrew. This Andrew suffered from a less severe condition but there was one distinct difference between the two that is too important not to share.
During those months I saw the other Andrew’s parents three times, maybe. Dad was a military enlistee and Mom stayed at home to care for their toddler. When visiting, they never stayed too long and not one person from that family ever stayed the night. I tried to understand this, to empathize. Caring for a toddler and only having one vehicle made visiting the hospital nearly impossible. They lived roughly an hour away and the mother found it quite challenging to drive in the city. I know it was a hardship for them.
During my Andrew’s hospitalization, I learned from the staff that I could not hold or touch another patient, although I longed to hold the other Andrew while my Andrew slept. He desperately needed some love and attention. I did manage to lean over his crib and chat with him every chance I got, but no holding, touching, or loving on him.
Mid-August 1988, Andrew was released from the hospital, nearly two and a half months after his surgery. The other little Andrew never checked out. With great sadness I learned he had died. It was a devastating blow! How could this be? I reflected for weeks, wondering what had gone wrong, but I knew the answer. I knew the answer without a doubt. That sweet baby died from a lack of love. He experienced limited interactions from humans, little touching or talking or holding - few smiles and rare talks. He failed to experience the joy of the human experience. I could go on and on about this sad occurrence, but today I’m stressing this point:
Kids (adults too) weren’t made to be isolated, working in cubicles, alone with only a computer with which to interact. Kids were meant to play, act, manipulate, communicate, touch, hug, hold and most especially LOVE.
There will come a time when a sense of normalcy returns. I’m not saying that everything will return to exactly how it once was before Covid 19. But what I am saying is this: The need for teacher/student and student/peer interactions are essential, now and in years to come. You see, I’ve seen the outcome when it doesn’t exist. To LOVE and to BE LOVED ~ well, it's ESSENTIAL! 💕