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  • Writer's pictureRachel Bennett

Can I have a hug?

Being the mother of a 10-year-old, this was something I hear a lot. And I mean A LOT! Right after we finish one hug, he's asking for another. Even though I love it, sometimes I catch myself getting annoyed, and then stop. I stop to remind myself of those times when I want a hug. And even when the hug is over, I sometimes still want more. I can't count the number of times that a goodnight hug with my son turns into a full on cuddle session. Or when I go to hug my husband goodbye and I just want to hang out there a little longer. And that time when you see a friend you haven't seen in forever and you hug to make up for years of hugs not given.

My mother gave the most amazing hugs. I know this personally, and I've also heard this from so many people. When my mom passed 7 years ago it was the one thing that I heard over and over the day of her memorial. It was a packed house and every time I saw someone new I gave them a hug and they would say "I will miss your mom. She gave the best hugs." (I also heard that she made the best meatball sandwiches, but mostly I heard about the hugs). Yesterday was her birthday and I heard the same thing. Sweet messages on social media, text messages, and phone calls all to say that I'm remembering your mom today. She gave the best hugs. And they were right.

We hug as greetings, goodbyes, "I'm sorry"s, and in celebration. And sometimes we hug because we want to express how we feel in exchange for the words to express our connection.

So why am I hung up on a hug? It's because recently there have been a few hugs that have meant a ton to me. And I wanted to share them with you.

I have a client named Eddie. Eddie and I are swim parents. I know his wife and spunky little daughter and they quickly became like family. When we started working together toward a weight loss goal I knew he was going to crush it. He was so determined to make himself and his family proud. And I was right! A few weeks ago we were checking in as we do every week and celebrated another great week of weight loss and working on new healthy habits. School had just started that week and I asked about his little girl and how the routine of school starting was going. Change is always tough and as a health coach I wanted to be mindful of it. When I asked about Emma I was surprised by the response I got. Eddie said, "Emma is great. She came home from school yesterday and wrapped her arms all the way around me for the first time ever and she said that it was the best day!" Can you imagine what that felt like!!! That must have been the best hug.

I have a friend named Therese. She and I have been friends for the last two years. We shop together, we coach people to better health together, and we love to exchange goofy ass memes in the morning. Well that last one is mostly her sending them to me because I absolutely suck at reaching out. But she also gives good hugs. The last time I saw her was at a party where we were shopping.... again. And she brought me some flowers from her yard. And I hugged her. She later messaged me and said that I gave the best hugs and she was so thankful for our friendship. We talk like that alot but it reminded me of how my mom hugged. What Therese said to me that day was the exact thing that other people say about my mom. And that makes me proud to have been that for someone.

And finally, I have to tell you about my new friend Wyatt. Wyatt is 5 years old. I met him at a camp that I took my family to earlier this month. I love this camp. It's absolutely magical. Within the first few hours all the kids were rolling down this amazing hill and Wyatt was one of them. The next morning at breakfast I met his mom and the rest of his family. We quickly bonded and our families made plans across the rest of the weekend to spend time with one another. The last morning at breakfast we were all saying our goodbyes to our new friends and Wyatt came up and crawled in my lap, wrapped his little arms around my neck and hugged me big. Like BIG. I looked up at his mom and she just smiled. She knew this hug too. When that little man hugged me it felt like a hug from my Mom. It felt like a hug from someone who knew how much I loved them. And I'd only met this little man for a few days, but he quickly became a kindred little spirit.

I've never really given hugs this much thought. but taking the time to really think about them. How they make me feel and the immediate feedback you get from the receiver is not a little thing. When I really think about it, it's an act of giving and receiving. It's an exchange of gratitude and trust. A way to communicate without saying a whole lot of words, but still saying a whole helluva lot.

“A hug is like a boomerang – you get it back right away.” – Bil Keane

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