He lay suspended between two worlds. In foggy space between consciousness and unconsciousness, between sleep and awake. Something is happening, barely perceptible, almost tangible, still undefinable.
What is it? The soft impression of two tiny lips on his cheek. The familiar, soft click sound of a kiss. Little hands on his shoulders for support. Love emanating white hot from a simple, anonymous gesture. From the tender mouth of a child to the rough face of a father. Yes, something is happening. Is it real, or just a dream? Shaking off the clutches of a nap like a dog shaking off water, eyes remaining closed, still groggy, but the experience becomes more clear. Yes, finally a conscious understanding of what has taken place…
My daughter approached me and kissed me on the cheek while I was sleeping on the oversized chair in the TV room.
The act may be seem insignificant, small, unworthy of mention. Maybe. But maybe it’s something more. Perhaps something much more.
A kiss on the cheek of a sleeping person may be one of the truest expressions of affection for another human being.
I know this flies in the face of conventional wisdom. The cheek kiss is often relegated as the “friend” kiss, the passionless gesture, completely devoid of feeling.
But I disagree.
There are nights when I don’t get home from work until after my daughter has fallen asleep. I don’t like these nights. Not at all. No reading. No silliness. No snuggling. But I always go into her room, make sure she’s comfortable, check to make sure her breathing passages are clear (she’s nine, and I’m still doing this?), and then I lean down, ever so quietly. Careful to keep my balance, slowly moving towards her perfect little face.
The rough impression of two lips on her cheek. The familiar, soft click sound of a kiss. Grown hands bracing on either side of her for support. Love emanating white hot from a simple, anonymous gesture. From the chapped lips of a father to the soft cheek of a child. The moment is…
What makes it so perfect is the anonymity of it all. I spend so much time, consciously or subconsciously, attempting to get people to notice my acts of love for them. It’s shameful, I know. But we all do this, whether we admit it or not. So many of our loving acts appear selfless, when, in fact, they are not. Not really. But this act, this unknown kiss, is pure, raw, unbridled affection. It is love expressed, but undetected. She doesn’t notice, nobody notices. But I cannot help myself. I love her so much, so deeply, I must kiss her face.
There are times in all of our lives where it is natural, and necessary, to show people how much we care. And then there are times within the bonds of a mutual relationship where we must give love anonymously, undetected, with no awareness on the part of the one receiving it. And it’s in these times when we know for sure our love is pure, right, true, and good. When we express love in such a way that we cannot receive any attention or reciprocation, we find out where our heart really is. And we know we are capable of caring for someone in the deepest way, in the way only mothers, fathers, and lovers know.
If there’s a sleeping child in your house tonight, thank God above you have the privilege of loving and leading and nurturing such a precious gift. Then sneak in and give them a kiss on the cheek, being careful not to wake them. Then you will experience the sweet manifestation of affection in its purest form.
Then, you will know.