Did you ever consider the healing powers of hugs? I thought I would share my experience as a volunteer.
One of the joyous benefits of delivering Meals on Wheels every Wednesday is the privilege of getting to know some of the clients. They come in all colors, all socio-economic circumstances, all personalities. There have been some that we have not enjoyed knowing as much, but for the most part, we’ve been blessed with some of the nicest, sweetest people you could hope to meet on our route. Since we’ve been doing this for a while, we’ve come to know some of the clients pretty well, and have established relationships that are as much friendships as “client” and “delivery person(s)”. And no matter how sleepy we are when the alarm goes off on MoW day, how grumpy we might be when we leave the house, by the time we pick up the meals and start our route we’re both in a happy frame of mind, just from the joy of seeing these friends.
One of the fringe benefits of these friendships is the hugs. As we’ve gotten to know the clients, we’ve gradually worked up to exchanging a hug along with delivering the meal. We’ve had more than one client who seemed brusque and even unfriendly until asked if they accepted or would like a hug. Then the smiles come out and the faces light up, and the hugs are returned with interest. It’s such a simple gesture, doesn’t really cost anything to offer or give, but it does show interest in someone, it does show we care about them.
This morning, as I handed over the meal to one of our clients and reached out to hug her, I was startled when tears started forming in her eyes. She clung to me with such fervor, while those tear drops streamed down her face. She said that I would never know how much she had needed that hug, needed to have someone just hold her for a few minutes.
This lady is probably in her late 70s and lives alone. We know she has some health issues, but have never inquired what they are. We haven’t really chatted with her about anything personal before. But today, she was so depressed, so lonely, so sad… and needed to feel the touch of another human being, to know that someone cares about her. She said she’d been sitting in the dark, without power, since 3:00 AM, that the power had only come back on just before we arrived, and that made her even more depressed.
We do not know what caused or triggered her sadness, we do not know what her relationship with her family is, or if she has a lot of friends. We only know that she needed that hug. She clung to me, as I hugged her over and over, and told her what a beautiful lady, and beautiful person she is. I told her that we do care about her, that we pray for her – as we do for all our MoW clients – and that we look forward to seeing her each week. And I hugged her again, and kissed her cheek. By the time I left her front door, she was smiling a bit, and her tears were drying. She obviously felt a bit better, and was looking forward to eating her meal.
I wish I could take credit for helping the lady, for reassuring her, for giving her some peace of mind. But all the credit goes to the hug. The touch of another human. The knowledge that someone cares, someone gives a damn, someone is wishing for all the best for her. Touching another person is a powerful thing. It’s something we all crave to do and to receive. But it can’t hold a candle to an honest, loving, heart-felt hug!