By Samantha Papesch
The other day, I hugged someone I barely knew. United in grief and spurred by the tears sliding gently down her cheeks, I walked behind the checkout counter and simply gave her a hug.
The day before, we, and many in our community had lost a beautiful friend in the most tragic of circumstances. As we embraced, a silent understanding of the shared pain and sadness passed between us.
In that moment no words were spoken, nor were they needed. That hug encapsulated and conveyed the complexities of emotions that words could never begin to describe.
It’s the same when I hold my children. Describing my love for them in those moments would be akin to explaining the mysteries of the universe. No words can possibly express what is so deep, personal and infinite.
Where poetry skirts the edges of the soul, touch is a language that has no limitations. As humans we have the ability to interpret emotional messages through physical sensations, but living in a “touch-phobic” society means that the beauty and benefits are easily overlooked.
A few days after that hug I bumped into another acquaintance, only this time I was on the receiving end of the embrace. Without hesitation she wrapped her arms around me saying nothing, yet everything. Her acknowledgement of my sorrow provided me with a sense of hope and meaning; that suffering needn’t be endured alone.
With every hug, there is comfort to be found. Deeper connections are forged and strengthened. Understanding comes to be.
While personal touch may not be everyone’s thing, for many it is, and within this seemingly simple gesture is something so undeniably human and powerful.
At this time of year where joy and happiness are offered in the form of presents, it’s worth remembering that one of the greatest things we can give family, friends, or perhaps even a relative stranger, is the gift of a hug.