I think it’s been nearly a month since I last published a post. I’m sure it’s very possible that I’ve lost some subscribers as they’ve given up hope that I’d never post again and didn’t know where to send the search party. Fear not those of you who have stayed vigilant and kept the light on like Motel 6! I’m still here, alive and kicking, but it’s Spring and this past month has found Mr. Muse and I afflicted with extra-strong cases of “busy”.
Between baby goats and honeybees, there is a lot of bleating and buzzing going on at the homestead. Most nights have found Mr. Muse and I out at the barn, dealing with one baby with a gimpy leg (large baby at delivery, contracted tendons from being cramped up in utero) to a first-time freshener (first time giving birth) with a raging case of mastitis. Her baby we’ve had to have nurse on the other two does as she refuses to nurse from a bottle. So my mornings are spent making sure that little Mila gets a belly-full of milk in the morning to hold her over (mostly) until we get home and can get her another belly-full. One doe stands still, begrudgingly, for being a wet nurse; our other doe, the largest one at 120#, does not want any part whatsoever of being a wet nurse (even though she puts out enough milk for at least three growing babies) and it turns into a wrestling match between she, Mr. Muse and myself to get her under enough control that Mila can latch on to nurse until she literally almost falls asleep.
It’s then that I can take the temperature of Mila’s mother, get an aspirin in her, check her udder again and get myself in the house, hopefully, before 8 PM to have some dinner, before working on all of the “inside the house” things that have to be done like washing dishes and cleaning.
So, that’s where I’ve been most recently, and even now, racked with guilt for neglecting the blog, I’m sneaking in some writing time (when I should be working).
Which brings me to an observation made this past weekend, and therefor caused me to muse over it and what it means, or could mean.
On Saturday morning I was sitting in church attending the funeral of a beloved grand-uncle. I’d known the moment I heard he’d passed that his funeral would be a very large event, as not only was the family rather large, but he was involved in various church boards, civic groups, businesses and youth organizations. The night he passed away, he was supposed to receive an award from a local FFA group. The community was rattled and my Facebook news feed was filled with articles about my uncle. A talk radio host announced the death of my uncle on his show the day afterwards and spoke of how appreciated and how influential my uncle was.
As I sat in the pew, I listened to my cousin give the eulogy and it wasn’t until the end of it when he choked up, that I shed a single tear. I could hear the shuddered, suppressed sobs of those who were able to fit inside the church for the service (there we so many people they were also broadcasting the service outside of the church). It wasn’t all sadness, though, as my uncle had been a jolly, happy man, and there were moments of laughter as wonderful times and turns of phrase were recalled. It was when his grandchildren were brought up to the pulpit to say their goodbyes that something my uncle had said to me, and which I’d heard him say to others, gave me pause:
“Have you been hugged today?”
It was a moment of profoundness than something so simple suddenly had the whole of the attendees in church smiling, nodding, laughing through tears and yet, altogether choked up with grief at feeling the full weight of the loss of my uncle.
I’ve written before about how I’m not what I consider a “hugger“, and yet, after those words were spoken I wondered how true it was that I wasn’t a hugger. As I drove back home I pondered upon my self-imposed label of non-huggery. Was I a non-hugger or was that just something I said to avoid the visceral experience of physical contact because it was an act that got me “out of my head” – a place I very much enjoy being? How did denying the expression of affection by someone, or for them, affect them – let alone me?
I knew that hugging Mr. Muse made me slow down and each time I’d find myself becoming “quiet” in my head, my thoughts settling down for the duration of the embrace. As I drove I thought about how many other people there are who I hug. How many are “one-arm hugs” and how many others are “the full embrace” – which of them get the cheek-press or the hand-on-the-head and held tightly. Some are a full-embrace with the side-to-side rocking. Each person is a little different, and no – I won’t hug everyone. I’m a relationship person and the general rule-of-thumb is hugs go to those with whom I have some sort of relationship. It’s not a hard-and-fast rule, however, as hugs have been given to console complete strangers, with me initiating by asking, “Do you need a hug?”
Hugs can be scary – they “expose our soft underbellies”. We express our vulnerability, our frailness. For those of us who have been described as “The Rock”, the person who holds it, and everyone, together – hugs can feel like an expression of weakness.
But, hugs do seem to make the day a bit brighter. The air a bit sweeter. Grief a bit less oppressive.
So, maybe by asking, “Have you been hugged today”, my uncle was working at making the world a little better, brighter, sweeter, less oppressive.
Perhaps that is the lesson I’m supposed to learn right now – hugging isn’t such a bad thing and maybe we all shouldn’t be so stingy with them. In allowing myself, ourselves, to be vulnerable, we get stronger. Perhaps if we all hugged more, maybe just one more hug a day, we’d make the world a little brighter, the air a bit sweeter and perhaps we could lessen the grief someone – even a stranger – is going through.
So, have you been hugged today?