Have you ever realized that you wanted something, um, but didn’t know what it was and then realize that it was something very simple. You just wanted, no, needed a hug.
Physical contact with intimacy thrown in – a hug.
Nope, I never really knew.
My current husband gives great hugs. He envelopes you in strong arms and squeezes just right and suddenly all is right with the world, time stops and you feel how much he loves and appreciates who you are and everything is forgiven and forgotten and you are in the here and now and it’s swell and real and nice. It’s a genuine hug.
I remember giving those same type hugs to my children. The babies and the toddlers, and as they grew I’d sit beside their bed at night, tucking them in, singing them songs, listening to them recant their childlike days of “who said what to whom” and “what is tomorrow going to bring” and on and on. I’d kiss their cheeks and hug them tight. Or the times I’d sit in the evening, after they had been bathed and ready for bed and invariably one of them would crawl up into my lap, their head still damp from that bath and their homemade pajamas all moist, smelling of Mr. Bubble, they would hug me tight and nestle on my lap. Safe and sound, all loving and everything was forgiven and all the past forgotten and they are snuggled in the here and now and it’s genuine and nice and swell.
I wasn’t raised with kisses and hugs as a way of greeting, and only as a small child at bedtime did we kiss our mother and father. As I grew, those times lessened, and then almost disappeared. I married, starting my own family, and I married a man who was also not comfortable with the PDA (public displays of affection) but we could hug and squeeze those kids to a pulp.
I was 23 years old, the mother of a three year old, a one year old and three months pregnant with my third child when my father (age 54!) suffered a massive heart attack that left him in a coma, on a ventilator with no possibility of recovery. I remember standing at the foot of his bed in the ICU, watching the pump of the vent push air into his lungs, whooshing and pumping, his chest heaving with unnatural breath sounds. I glanced at the tubes and the bags attached to him, and standing beside me a small nun had slipped into the room. She stated that it would be okay if I wanted to touch him, to hug or kiss him. I was frozen in thought. I really wanted to. I really wanted to say, Daddy don’t leave! I watched his strong, tanned hands, and wanted to grasp them. But I didn’t do so in life, and it was uncomfortable in death, so I did nothing. The moment passed. Later I stroked his forehead, and whispered so no one could hear me, except him, and said, “please come back, those babies are waiting for you Pops, Adam and Sarah are waiting”, and then I left.
I always regretted not kissing or hugging him as he lay there dying, but it felt so unnatural to do so, when mostly you only hugged small children.
Then I met my current husband. I think he’d hug the mailman. He hugs everyone. I saw him hug my then teenaged children, and they hugged him back. He hugs in greetings and he hugs in joy and he hugs in comfort and he hugs for no.good.reason. In his family, everyone hugs and kisses when you enter and when you leave. They are genuine, they are casual with it. It’s no big deal. I saw him hug my mother, who was so uncomfortable. He hugged her repeatedly over the years and now she extends her arms, stands up to receive him; I wonder if she’s hugging back, but I know she is. I hug her more easily now too, and she hugs me back. Hell, I hug everyone now. I feel the need to show the people in my life. I love you, I accept you, I forgive you, I hope you forgive me. It’s just a hug. But it means so much. Hug me back, damn it. Did I forget anyone? No, you there, don’t you get away, I’m going to hug you. X X X X X
My son, he won’t hug back, my girls are hesitant, but they’ll hug me back. They are a work in progress, and someday they’ll understand completely. I hug their husbands, and I hug my stepchildren.
I thank my husband for that, this hugging thing among the other gifts he brings. And when I feel the need, I ask him for a hug. No reason, but to feel his strong arms around me, to make time stop, to feel his heartbeat, and all is well and right with the world as we know it. I thank his parents for teaching that skill to him, for teaching him to openly show his acceptance and affection for everyone in his life. And for showing that to me.