There is magic in the touch of a hand that loves you. It brings comfort and healing and a silent promise that says, “I am here and you are not alone.”

Sometimes when we’re driving or watching a movie or having dinner somewhere, my husband will reach over for no apparent reason and take my hand in his.

I like that about him a lot. It always makes me smile, even at times, through tears.

When my children were born, I memorized every detail of their newborn anatomy. The skin that felt like velvet. The lips that would curl into a perfect pink rosebud. The eyes that looked deep into my soul and somehow saw the best in me.

And, oh my, their hands: The nails, the dimples, the lines that creased their palms. I will never forget how those hands clung to mine, wrapping their tiny fingers around my thumb and holding on as if for dear life.

I loved them instantly and forever. Yet I had no clue how deeply in years to come those hands would touch my soul.

As babies, they reached for me whenever they were hungry or tired or just needed to be held.

Sometimes, if they woke in the night, just the touch of my hand would ease them back to sleep.

They clung to me when they took their first steps and sobbed from from their first falls and earned their first Band-Aids.

We held hands when crossing streets, giving thanks for every meal, trick-or-treating at Halloween, and walking from the car to their classroom on their first day of school.

My hands picked them up when they fell. Patted their backs when they fussed. Felt their foreheads for a fever. Lifted their chins when they felt bad. Squeezed their shoulders to say, “Knock it off.” And clapped louder than anybody at their games and plays and recitals.

Their hands waved at me from the window of a school bus, the floor of a gym, the stage of an auditorium, the bottom of a pool and the field of a stadium filled with college graduates.

Every time I saw them wave, my heart skipped a beat.

As they grew older and more independent, I noticed that they didn’t hold my hand much any more. Or seem to need me for much of anything at all. I tried not to take it personally. I told myself it was part of growing up, and I should just be glad they could do their own laundry.

Children aren’t the only ones who go through growing pains. Parents do it, too. When you’ve been needed so much for such a long time, it’s hard to step back and feel ... unnecessary.

Then one day I was visiting my oldest in New York, where he was working as an actor on a TV show called “Ed.” We were crossing a street that looked to be about as wide as a football field and was filled bumper to bumper with honking traffic.

Suddenly, the boy grabbed my hand, shouted, “Hang onto me, Mom!” and led me safely across.

In that moment, I realized several things. First, my boy had become a man. Second, clearly he thought I was necessary. I was still his mother, but our roles had changed. We needed each other, but in different ways than in the past. We could take turns being strong. Finally, I realized, in New York, you’re better off in a cab than on foot.

That scene has replayed in various ways with each of my three children. They have taught me to lean on them just as they once leaned on me, and that we can always lean on each other.

We live miles apart, but stay close in touch. This week I had dental surgery. It wasn’t a big deal, aside from making my mouth feel like it had been caught in a woodchipper.

My husband took good care of me, and my kids kept checking in, making sure I was OK. And with every kindness, every phone call, every email, every text, I felt a little better.

There is magic and comfort and healing in the touch of a hand that loves you. Even if it “touches” you from afar.

– Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 777394, Henderson NV 89077 or on her website: www.sharonrandall.com.