Hug It Like You Mean It

I am prone to thinking about things this week – the deep, gut-wrenching kind of thinking.

Easter does that to me. People too.

I saw an old friend this week who has been in hospital. A suicide attempt. Horrible, stark, totally confronting situation which if you think about for too long makes the bottom start to fall out of your world.

What do you say when you see someone who’s been through that? What do you do? Do you adopt an attitude of false cheeriness, talking with a kind of manic enthusiasm about every positive thing you can think of? Oh, look at that flower. Can you believe the colour? Who would have thought such wonder could appear in nature? Look at that little girl’s dress. Isn’t it cute? Oh, and there’s a bright yellow car….

Clutching at straws. That’s what that is. The big old spirit of avoidance stands in front of you, waving his finger as if to say: Stop carrying on like an idiot.

And when you see that big old spirit there is only one thing you can do, there is only one way to express the inexpressible.

Put your arms around that person and hold them.

Hold them for as long as they need and say: It’s good to see you. It’s really good.

And here’s the weird part – the hug, the embrace, actually has power. You can feel it. For the briefest of moments it is possible to believe you might just have a little bit of Wonder Woman* in you and that your arms are like her magic bracelets deflecting all the pain in the world. Keeping all the vulnerable people safe.

When my old friend went to hospital her husband did a terrible thing. I know it was his grief and disbelief (and his fear) that made him do it but it made me cry when I saw it.

She had a garden full of hydrangeas. I personally really like hydrangeas. Those bluey white ones are like the colour of summer dresses in the south of England where you have plates of sandwiches and jugs of lemonade on the lawn. They’re not just the domain of elderly gardeners named Ethel or Hortense who plant them because they’re easier to grow than roses. Word on the street is hydrangeas are actually cool. You heard it here first.

My friend’s husband ripped out all her hydrangeas and threw them into the road. I stood there on a wet day and dropped my umbrella in the gutter watching it twirl and spin in the stormwater unable to chase it as the water carried it down to the intersection because all I could focus on was the bluey white hydrangea petals turning to mulch on the road and the stalks, stumps – sombre as old mannequins in department stores that have lost their fingers.

Oh, what being forced to face the unfaceable can do.

But this morning as I was walking (strangely enough, it was raining again) I saw that not all of the hydrangeas had been destroyed and that some of them were growing back, replenished by the rain and perhaps a deep knowing that they need to be where they are and their place in the world is important.

Seeing them made me feel so good. It was as if they had reached out their long, petal-ly fingers and were actually hugging me. And they meant it. Really meant it.

Oh the power of a humble, simple, unconditional hug. It can change so much in an instant.

*I don’t mean to make light of a serious subject but Wonder Woman and Batman are my favourite superheroes(heroines.) If they actually existed I firmly believe the world would be a better place……
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9 thoughts on “Hug It Like You Mean It

  1. All you can do is give that hug, hold them tight and let them know how glad you are to see them still here. Easter is a time of rebirth, perhaps this is your friends second chance, a chance for renewal, a time of hope for her. With springs comes the thought that all things are possible, especially with a good friend by her side to help her be thankful that it was an attempt and not a success, to convince her that life IS worth living and that that is the greatest success of all.
    Hugs to you and your friend Selma xoxo

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  2. Hi CATHY:
    You are so right. It really is all you can do. I hope it is a time of renewal for her. I cannot imagine how hard it must be coming back from that. The good thing is though, that she is still with us. And it is really good to see her.

    Thank you for your beautiful hug xx

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  3. Sorry about your friend but thankfully she survived. You are right about the hug – there are no words in that situation. I visited a very good friend of mine in a psychiatric ward after he tried to kill himself (and destroyed his unit in the process) and really didn’t know what to do – so a hug it was (though I did manage to slip in a few dark jokes about full moons and pychiatric wards, which he seemed to appreciate).

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  4. You are so right about the hug. In this complicated world, we forget the power of what we perceive, sometimes, as small efforts. Your hug passed on love and understanding. I can’t imagine there is anything more appropriate – or needed – than that. The hyndrangea is a most beautiful metaphor for it; particularly as it has perservered. I love the way you see, my friend. And if I were ever in the position of your friend, I would be comforted a great deal by your hug.

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  5. Funny thing about hydrangeas … I dug a blue one up from my father’s garden, and transplanted it in my own garden … 80 miles away … and next time it flowered the flowers were pink!

    I’m supposing it’s to do with the acidity or otherwise of the soil, and the flowers maybe work on the same principle as litmus paper.

    But, I really admired its property of being able to adapt to any surroundings … so unlike many humans I know!

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  6. Life can be so hard sometimes–we all need to hug each other more often. Wonder Woman bracelets would be good to have too. Many hugs for you and your friend, and all our families and friends on this Easter Weekend.

    Sagacious Woman

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  7. Hi GABRIELLE:
    I’m sorry to hear about your friend too. It’s true – many people in that situation do relate to the darker humour. And sometimes a hug is the best way to go. It really does say so much.

    Hi JENNIFER:
    Well that goes double for me – the way you see is just exquisite. You inspire me to see more than I’m presently seeing. And a hug really is an amazing thing. A balm, a comfort, a measure of hope. I love hugs so much!!

    Hi TRAVELRAT:
    I had heard that about the acidity of the soil making them change colour but I’ve never tried it. There are lots of pink ones down near my Mum’s place. The soil must be different down there. Either way, both colours are nice!

    Hi BARBARA:
    I know. Sometimes this old life is a challenge and a half. I think it helps to know other people get it. It makes us feel less alone when the dark moments hit. If I had Wonder Woman bracelets I could save the world. I know it 😀

    Have a wonderful Easter weekend ♥

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  8. One of the hardest gigs on this planet is to be the spouse of a suicide, successful or not.
    There is no guilt like that guilt, and it does cause a profound if temporary insanity. So although I do nto understand the significance of the removal of the hydrangeas, I do understand the state of mind.
    Your hug is exactly the right response, but for ther confused and devastated spouse, more often a bridge too far and so the gap widens.

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  9. Hi STAFFORD:
    It would be the most difficult thing in the world. I really can’t imagine it and I can see how it would cause temporary insanity. I don’t know what will become of my friend and her husband. I don’t know if he can cope with what has happened. I actually feel for him as much as I do for her. It’s so hard.

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