Are you a hugger? I wasn’t as a child. It wasn’t our family’s “thing”. That’s okay, I suppose. Pretty sure all you non-huggers are tolerating the COVID-19 restriction policies better than us huggers. Though I’ve grown into being a hugger (with a few limits), during these pandemic days I truly treasure all the human interaction I can get. Smiles (that you can actually see on an unmasked face), hugs, elbow bumps, conversation. Anything, I tell ya. Growl at me even.
One of our daughters was not much of a hugger as a child. One of our daughters was known for her hugs. Oddly enough, as adults that has changed by 180 degrees. The non-hugger hugs, the hugger hugs reluctantly. Their grandmother Lena was adamantly opposed to being hugged. Didn’t mean she was harsh and unloving, quite the opposite. But. NO HUGS. Well, unless you were her grandchild/great grandchild. Her face would light up when getting hugs from any of that group of twenty-eight human beings.
In October of 2008 the hubby and I spent a couple weeks in France. It was a business trip for him, and while he was at work I explored the vast expanse of Paris. Solo. Armed with camera and purse hidden under my jacket. Did I look cute? Of course not. Our hotel was a distant 12 subway stops from the heart of the city and I became pretty familiar with how to get around. One day I took myself to the Louvre and surrounding area. Since it was a gorgeous day I opted to stroll through the Tuileries Garden.
Here is one picture I took on this stroll. If you look really close, maybe zoom in to the center of the pic, you will see a couple. They were enjoying their day with a lunch at one of the tables in the garden. I watched their happy faces, heard their laughter, and though I heard their conversation it was not in a language I could understand. Italian, maybe. But the love between this man and woman was undeniable. As I got closer to them I saw a camera in the woman’s hand. Not a cell phone camera with selfie option. Those days hadn’t quite happened yet. The woman was trying to take their picture. I caught her eye and somehow communicated that I would love to take their picture for them. You would have thought I’d offered her a large sum of money. She handed me her camera and I took several pictures. Then she indicated that she wanted a picture with me. This certainly surprised me, good grief why would anyone want their picture taken with me there in the center of the Tuileries garden? My jacket looked like a black trenchcoat, my face was…..well….my face. My shoes looked like orthotics for the elderly. I dress for comfort. Always.
The photo shoot went on while “conversation” was accomplished only by smiles and gestures and just an atmosphere of kindness. Friendliness between strangers with a serious language barrier. After the three of us spent some time looking through the digital images on their camera I turned to leave. At that point the woman reached out her arms with a smile, and embraced me with a brief but firm hug. I returned the embrace and we waved goodbye.
As I walked away I just couldn’t help but think about how wonderful that experience had been. Totally unexpected. No names were exchanged, no words actually even spoken. In all likelihood we’ll never see each other again. Just a brief encounter that I’ll never forget.
Sometimes I think God has unique ways of administering hugs to us. Wordless hugs. Warm and unexpected embrace from the One who loves us most. On this particular day he used a random couple in a beautiful place so far away from my normal life. Angels unaware, perhaps.
And I think He most definitely used Lena’s twenty-eight precious young grands and great grandchildren to hug her on His behalf over the years. We’re approaching the first anniversary of her passing and I know every one of those twenty-eight would give anything to hug her one more time.
Do yourself a favor, embrace being embraced. 🙂 It will work wonders for your heart and soul.