I Asked a Stranger for a Hug

This morning I went to the store to get this book by Melody Beattie recommended by my confidant. She thought it would be helpful for my current chronic pain experience. Thanks to her I walked away with so much more than the book.

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In the self-help aisle there was a woman sitting on the floor with a pile of grief books next to her. She was on the phone with a woman who had just lost her father. The woman in the store was giving her advice based on her experience of losing her own father. She told her to go through social media and print all the photos of her dad. She told her to write down every single memory she could think of.

It felt really invasive listening to this private, emotional conversation. I walked away a couple of times unable to find my book. I came back and she got off the phone and started crying. I wanted to hug her. But weird, right? I thought okay I’ll just hold space for her. I won’t be weird and hug her. Then she made a phone call to another friend and I realized my book was right where she was sitting. She got off that phone call and I walked behind her to get the book I’d been searching for. My heart knew my head had to do something.

I said to her “It sounds like you’re experiencing something painful. Would you mind if I hugged you?” She was definitely surprised and said sure and I reached down and hugged her and told her I hoped that things get easier soon for her and she said thank you.

It was totally weird.

But totally great.

I was so thankful I didn’t walk away regretting not having that moment of connection.

I came home and my dad was at my house. I was teary thinking about these two women I didn’t know losing their fathers. It reminded me of not long ago when I thought that if I lost my own father, I would probably have many regrets.

For six months last year my dad and I didn’t speak to each other. I moved out of state from him when I was ten years old. We never figured things out and I had so much anger and resentment. It is like two people who know each other their whole lives, but one speaks Spanish and the other speaks French and there’s no translator. For the first time in my life he lived 20 minutes away from me and I couldn’t talk to him. I had to figure out my role as a daughter first and heal my past.

Because of that break, we reconnected and finally learned what our language of love is. It is nothing short of a miracle and what we have is beautiful. It is everything I’ve wanted from my dad my whole life.

I watched him in my backyard as I have since we reunited last Christmas and felt the utmost gratitude for repairing our relationship and more than ever knowing I’ll never regret another day of not having him in my life.

Lately, I have put much thoughtfulness into connection with others. Practicing mindfulness allows you to value every experience in your life. This morning in that bookstore, I could have ignored that woman’s conversation and walked away never thinking of it again. Instead I listened to my soul tell me to connect. I then got to experience deep appreciation for mending important relationships in my life.

Lesson of the day: What we have here on earth is short. Don’t miss opportunities to be fully present and experience the ultimate human connection. You never know what it will teach you and what impact you may have on others.

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