Years ago I read an article in a woman’s magazine that posed this question:

Could I recognize the people I love simply by touch?

Through the years the rest of the article has long since faded, but the question has stayed with me.

When my son was young and I changed his diapers, bathed and dressed him, I could confidently answer yes.

I knew every square inch of him, reveling in the sweetness of the creases on his chubby baby’s legs; stroking his downy baby hair; inhaling his scent.

I knew him by heart.

Absolutely.

I also know I could recognize my husband.

Living together all these years, sharing a bed and a life has made us intimate partners. I recognize the feel of his skin, the calloused hands, the nooks and crannies that make him uniquely him.

I know him by heart.

Absolutely.

When I was brushing our two old sweeties the other day, I realized that I have known and cared for them almost as long as I’ve known my husband.

And as I run my hand over their aging bodies, I recognize them simply by touch.

I know the way Bud’s mane frizzles up, making him seem like an aging punk rocker.

I know his wide, sturdy face and the thicket of downy hair that lies under his forelock. It’s one of my favorite places to connect with him.

I know his short tail, his legs now feathered with an overgrowth of hair, the wideness of his body, the cowlicks at each hip, the bristle of his coat.

I know him by heart.

Absolutely.

As for Miss Pepper – I know the lightning bolt scar on her face, the sharp hipbones and protrusion of ribs just below the surface, her silky, slicked out coat, and her swollen arthritic knees. I know her long tail and the little place at the base of her mane where her hair stands straight up. I know the softness of her muzzle and her laid-back ears. I know the way she likes to be touched, and more important – the way she doesn’t.

I know her by heart.

Absolutely.

Then there’s Mija.

She has angora soft fur, little folds instead of ears, and tiny sprouts of hair between her toes. I felt them the day we first met and think I’ve touched them every day since.

I know her by heart.

Absolutely.

I’m guessing there are people and animals in your life that you know by heart, love deeply and recognize every nook and cranny of their being.

Isn’t it wonderful?

And what a gift.

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