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Free Hugs

When my son was in his teenage years, he decided to tape a piece of white paper to his black shirt. The paper read “Free Hugs.” Curiosity won out and I had to ask him “Why would you do that?” He just laughed and said with a smile on his face “Because, well, why not? Everyone can use a hug.” How right he was. In those moments I just smiled along with him, proud of the man he was becoming and how something as simple as offering a hug could mean so much to someone who might need one. He knew that.

I watched my son proudly hug anyone he came into contact with, even when he was not wearing his homemade “Free Hug” shirt. He would look them into the eye, sport a huge smile, and then his arms would be extended like a bird getting ready to take flight as he embraced the next winner of a free hug. Sometimes people would smile, often they would have a surprised look on their face. Because seriously, who would do that right? My son, that’s who!

I remember many times when I would also get one of those free hugs. He got older and we drifted further away from one another, now several states lay between us. The hugs have become even more seldom. I am thinking back now on how many moments throughout my life I could have really used just a free hug. I was blessed to have a son eager to offer me one, for some of it anyway. Now, I am looking around wishing I had another, but no one to receive one from.

I have often wondered about the people that were lucky enough to receive a free hug from my son. Could it have been a mother that held a screaming child in her arms that day, and is now left feeling exhausted and drained? Could it have been someone who had just written a suicide note and felt like no one cared whether they walked this Earth one more day? Could it have been someone who just found out they had been diagnosed with cancer?

There have been many times in my life when I have felt the world come crushing down on me. I would look around and no one would be standing there next to me. No one I could turn to for advice, no one to tell me it will be ok, no one to just hold me and tell me they love me, and no one to just offer a hug. What would it mean on those days just for some random person to come walking toward me with their arms open wide and to offer a hug as if to say “It is all going to be ok, and I love you!”

Right now I want you to look around, think about the people you see on an daily basis or even those that you pass in the store. What if they are one of those people that are feeling so very alone right now and just need to know someone out there cares? Haven’t we all felt that at one point or another? Maybe you are even feeling that right now, just as I am.

A free hug.

One simple act – a wonderful feeling to give someone!

One Comment Post a comment
  1. I’ve scribbled a few pieces lately about the need for connection… for something that feels genuinely like a hug.
    Occasionally, there will be comments about how lockdown has affected us all –
    because it seems pretty much a given, after a year of lockdown, a year without hugs, that this is what I’m writing about.
    But the truth is, it feels like it’s been coming, in so many ways, way before lockdown…

    Sometimes, it feels like the whole world is creaking with crumbling hearts in need of a genuine hug.


    May 24, 2021

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