You would think it is a strange time to be writing or talking about hugging.  Obviously there is not a great deal of hugging taking place right now with all this social distancing.  It has made me reflect back on the great hugs I have been the receiver of.  That means someone else initiated the hug.  Family hugs are of course great hugs, but maybe we take them for granted since they occur so often.  I want to write about my greatest hug…that I can remember anyway!

I have been a youth speaker and working with kids for a long time.  It is good to be very careful when hugging kids.  I take my cue from them and the staff.  Boundaries are very important, especially with kids.  Someone shared a saying with me.  I do not know who the quote is from but it is wonderful.  It says “Hugging is the most beautiful form of communication that allows the other person to know beyond a doubt that they matter.”  I can’t imagine a better way of describing a hug.  Getting hugged is just as good as being hugged.

My uncle gave me the best hugs.  They kind of hurt though because he was so strong, but I would always prepare myself before he pulled me in.  The hug in the picture attached to this article was maybe the most spontaneous hug I have ever received.  I had just finished a middle school assembly and then went into the cafeteria to chat with the kids.  When I visit schools I enjoy going to lunch with the kids.  I was sitting on a table and this girl just ran up to me out of nowhere and embraced me and then went back to her seat.  The kids thought it was awesome and I remember a collective “awwwwwww” coming from the group.  I was kind of surprised but it was a lovely gesture.

My greatest hug though was one I will never ever forget.  I was speaking at a conference for foster youth.  I gave a keynote and then had to run a workshop for about a hundred people.  There were kids and adults in the room.  My workshops are very interactive and the kids asked me some hard questions about connecting with adults and how vulnerable foster kids can be.  When I was finished, as is always the case, multiple people came up to speak with me afterward.  There were perhaps 10-20 people milling about waiting to speak to me.  I had just finished speaking with someone when I turned around to address someone behind me.  A young girl, perhaps 15 or 16 years old, embraced me.  She not so much embraced as she grabbed me and held on so tightly as if we had just jumped from a plane or were going over a waterfall together.  It seemed like she was hanging on for dear life and did not want to let go.  She held me so hard, harder even than my uncle, she almost broke my ribs.  I am not exaggerating when I say the hug lasted for well over 30 seconds.  The strangest thing about this though was that we did not exchange any words, just the hug.  She hugged me for between 30 seconds and a minute and then just turned and headed for the door.  I was speechless as were all the adults and kids standing there.  Tears started to roll down my face and I could not even go after her because I was gasping for air.  She left me breathless and speechless!!

I was never able to find this beautiful child among the 700 people who were there that day.  It would have been nice to have told her how much that hug meant to me and still means to me.  It was absolutely my greatest hug received.  Hopefully someone thinks of me when they think of great hugs.  I also hope with all my heart that we can hug again soon…very very soon.  I am hurting and could use a great hug.  Couldn’t we all?!