"Can I Hug You?"

“Can I hug you?” one said.

“Is it okay if I hug you?” said another.

And there were others with the same request of me after a speech I gave today to a room filled with nurses, social workers, therapeutic recreation therapists and a sprinkling of other health care professionals.

To be asked for a hug by people who give their heart and soul to helping others is, to say the least, humbling.

Today’s speech was given to members of the ADHCC (Adult Day Health Care Council), a wonderful council run by and for some pretty extraordinary folks.

I can tell you that I began the presentation by asking how many people in the room were nurses. More than half. I then told them that there were two things I wanted to tell them. First, it was people like them that helped save my life and, I added, “Foley catheters….Not funny.” A well-earned laugh and smile for all.

The request for hugs has grown over the past couple of years and I don’t know that I fully understand why. I do understand that the requests are honorable and heartfelt. And I do know too that many of those asking know, like I do, that the world is short on hugs.

Perhaps I am asked because of all I’ve been through. Perhaps I am asked because I do all I can to remind those in the audience that they count too. That they are just as special and worthy and valuable as any of the people they care for. That taking care of themselves is not an act of disloyalty to anyone else.

I am glad I’m alive. I’m glad I’ve lived life’s storms. I’m glad and grateful I am asked if I can be hugged, and I am glad and grateful that I can say yes and hug people back.