Air Hug, Anyone?

I Didn’t Sign Up For This
A Covid-19 Blog Entry
Chapter 11

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

Leo Buscaglia (1924-1988)
American Author 

Living through this pandemic has caused a great deal of disruption to our lives. So many things have changed. Things we took for granted, like going out to eat, or catching the latest movie at the Phoenix theater, are all gone, at least for right now. I miss them. But most of all, I miss warm hugs. Being a huge Olaf (Disney’s Frozen movies) fan, this won’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me well. I don’t live alone, and I’m not sensory deprived, because I have a loving, kind husband, and yet, I still miss warm hugs.

People need touch as much as they need food, shelter and air to breathe. With few exceptions, most people thrive when human touch is an integral part of life. Studies have shown physical touch to be an essential element of healthy human existence. Children deprived of loving touch, are statistically more prone to violence when they become adults.  Other studies site lack of bonding between parent-and-child may cause lifelong emotional disturbances. Touch increases trust between people. Studies at the University of North Carolina have shown hugs will strengthen our immune systems. I recall reading about a study done years ago, where otherwise healthy babies deprived of any kind of loving interaction with their caregivers actually died because they were not being touched, interacted with and cared for with love and compassion. 

And yet, casual touch is something I have until recently taken for granted to a large extent. I didn’t realize how empty it feels suddenly being unable to reach out to people I usually interact with in that way. It’s not as if I touch everyone I meet, but now the opposite is often true. 

When you walk into a store these days, you see the suspicion in other people’s eyes as they veer around you, staying at least six feet away. They’re wondering, “Does she have Covid-19? Will I get it if I come too close?”

I know they see the same look in my eyes, too. 

Thanks a lot, Covid-19, you nasty little piece of R.N.A. 

It’s not just strangers. Even some of my adult children and I can’t exchange a hug.

Because they don’t live in my household, we have to stay a minimum of six feet apart if we do happen to see them. We can’t visit or hug the grandchildren.

Both my son and daughter recently offered “Air Hugs” when we saw each other at a safe distance, in which we each hugged the surrounding air. 

It was cute. A great idea. And yet, how strange and empty that air felt. 

I’m one of the lucky ones. I have my husband and daughter, son and granddaughter living in our home right now, to allow human closeness and interaction. 

I can’t imagine how lonely it must be right now for anyone who stays home and practicing social distancing while living by themselves. Yes, it’s true we can ‘see’ each other via the wonderful internet, and that helps. But the studies are correct. We human beings thrive on being able to touch each other, whether it be a friendly pat on the back, a handshake, a hug or a touch on the arm. 

What effect not being able to touch other people to the extent we have until now, have on societies all over the world? Eventually this too shall pass, as a wise man once said, and with the development of a vaccine, life may one day get back to some semblance of “normal’ as we knew it.

I hope the kindness, and the comradery remains. There have been a lot of wonderful things happening that warm my heart when I read about them. People helping people. I hope it stays. 

Meanwhile, I think I’ll go watch Frozen II and sing along with Olaf, when he sings, “This will all make sense when I am older…” I might even give him an air hug. 

Stay safe, my friends. Please continue to practice social distancing and stay home whenever you can. And here’s an air hug for you, too. 

(((              )))
‘Air Hug’

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