“I just wanna hug you!”
My eyes welled with tears.
“I know! Me too.”
She frowned back at me.
One of my best friends stood in the vestibule at the front of my house — that awkward little space that connects the front door and the storm door. She was returning my Crock Pot that she’d borrowed a couple of days earlier. She has the kindest heart and had used it to batch cook a few meals for a friend of ours from church. She stood there for a minute — six feet away, arms outstretched.
We’ve had several exchanges like this over the past couple of months, commiserating. The one that absolutely broke my heart was when her 4-year-old daughter came running up to me for a hug and I had to throw my arms up like I was being held hostage, sadly refusing her hug. I cried as I drove home that day. “I miss hugs.” looped in my mind, over and over again. I miss a lot of things about life before this pandemic, but I think I might miss hugs the most.
She and I have called, texted, FaceTimed — and we will continue to. But I can’t hold her baby during church meetings and we can’t sit next to each other in Sunday school like we could before. We can’t meet up for chips and guac after work and we can’t wipe each other’s tears away when we’re having an ugly cry. But we can leave plates of cookies on each other’s doorstep. We can write cards. We can still love and nurture our sweet friendship.
I’ve been writing a lot of cards since mid-March. Making my own cards has been really fun and even cathartic. I’ve always loved writing and sending cards. My family moved a lot growing up, and in the 80’s and 90’s, before we had access to Marco Polo or FaceTime or the internet (insert grandma emoji here), my friends and family and I would write cards, send letters, and sometimes even mail a mixed cassette or CD. Long-distance phone calls were expensive and few and far between.
My sister-in-law instituted frequent family Zoom calls, complete with rounds of hilarious trivia and an ongoing invitation to BYOS (bring your own snacks). They have been giving me so much life! We used to meet at my mother-in-law’s for lunch every Sunday, smiling at each other across the table. Now we smile at each other through the computer screen, stacked in boxes like the opening titles of The Brady Bunch.
My husband and I used to frequent the same few restaurants for date night — and funnily enough, this used to be a source of argument. We tried a few of those “date night at home” ideas, which were okay. But we finally got to a point where we just had to get out of our house.
A couple of weeks ago, we sat in the parking lot of the grocery store with Chinese takeout. He found a “crackling fire in the fireplace” video on YouTube that he propped up on the dashboard and we listened to one of our favorite Pandora stations as we ate. “This is nice.” he said to me. “It is.” I replied, in between bites of fried rice.
I don’t miss the way our life was moving at breakneck speed and how disconnected we felt. I love the emotional closeness that has transpired over the last few months. I don’t miss the multiple trips to the grocery store every week, and how much time I spent in car, shuttling kids to and from wherever they needed to go. I have a new found love of grocery delivery and cooking at home, eating meals at the table for the first time in way too long. I don’t miss all of us having to be in so many places at the same time. I love the intentional family time we’ve been carving out most days.
As stressful as this whole situation is, I’m thankful to be cooped up with the people that I love. And as much as I knew I was a hugger before we had to practice social distancing — I really know I’m a hugger now.
Because as the time passes, cookies will be dropped off, cards will be sent, video calls will be made — and someday, we’ll finally be able to greet each other with a hug.
This post was written as part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to read the next post in this series “Together, Apart”.