If a picture paints a thousand words,

Then how many words for a hug?

Throughout this dark, socially distant lockdown, I’ve been trying to think of ways to compensate for not being able to hug my mum. At the beginning I thought surely, with all my words, I’ll be able to construct something that’s as good as a hug. An instant later, I realised nothing is ever going to suffice. Advertisers have often tried to sell something as being as good. Remember cupasoup’s ‘hug in a mug’? Hot chocolate, wine, bubble bath, slankets (where have they gone now?) all tried to do something that felt as warm and comforting as human arms. I’m not sure that any succeeded.

A couple of months ago I saw some people had fabricated a sheet with arms pegged to a washing line that you could use to “safely” embrace someone you weren’t living with. Still looked too risky to me. You can post a creepy cut-out torso with arms to someone too. How do you get those paper arms round you?!

When I see selfies of people with their arms round eachother, even if that’s apologised for after the fact, I feel a little angry. The hug, to many of us, is a delicate, precious, risky thing. To casually do it is to say, this hug may cost a life, but hey ho.

So I’m stumped. And then there’s the people who have been living alone. The elderly who have limited visits from their family, served tea by masked but amazingly brave care workers. The children returning to school, leaving their mums and dads behind. What happens when they fall in the playground or just miss being close to their friends?

Maybe it was easier to hug without thinking about it before all this.

Maybe it costs more to say those brave words, ‘I love you.’

Maybe we need to hug better when we get the chance.

We definitely need to not forget what we missed when it returns again.

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