On hugging

There is something so powerful in the simple hug. I’m talking about hugs that are given and received equally by both parties. The two-armed hug. The bear hug. The squeeze. The hug that is held indefinitely.

I have become acutely aware of this since my ready and regular source of hugs, my wife, was transplanted 300 miles to the other end of the country. Since then I have ensured that if I am not going to see her, then I will not be far from my next hug from my mum, my sister, my dad or my best friend.

I’ve been prompted to write about hugs today after reading this post from Lesbian Dad who writes about the experience as a parent in the days after the school shootings in Newtown. I was moved by this description of a hug:

I took my son to a magic show put on by our school’s second grade teacher as a fundraiser for the school’s art program. Our school’s principal was there with her two children (a daughter and son, each the exact age of our daughter and son). I hugged her long and hard, and she readily hugged back.  I told her I would be hugging her as frequently as I could in the coming weeks, if that was okay by her. She said definitely, it was okay by her.

For me this encapsulates a hug of shared experience. Of understanding. Of care. It is exactly the hug that I talk about above that is given and received equally.

On two occasions lately I have been in a position to offer such a hug and I held back. I still regret it. In both situations the recipient was more than acquaintance, a friend, but someone that I am still very much getting to know. After today, I will not hold back. So if you know me and are in need of a hug, I’m ready and willing. And please don’t be alarmed if in future a hug is offered to you.

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I am a freelance writer, editor and trainer. A librarian in a former life.

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