A bear hug. The kind of hug where you shake the person around a little bit. As guys, when we hug each other, those are hugs. I was discussing the physicality with which men relate the other day with a friend of mine, and we talked about our similar experience in working with kids; especially of how much a hug can signify in terms of care and love. When I give one of my "kids" a hug, whether it be the elementary or junior high boys who lovingly invade my office each Sunday, my senior high boys who I have been so privileged to watch (and walk alongside with) growing up, or my boys who have now moved into that world of adulthood... it's the same deal - I give a hug that shows I mean it.
With this is mind, today I am reminded of why it's so important. A hug signifies love and care, but you also never ever know if it's going to be the last one. I'm not a parent... I often wish I was but at the same time I know I have been blessed beyond what I ever could deserve to have been a caregiver to so many over the years. Still, as much as I love my "kids" with my heart and soul, I cannot imagine what it would be like as a parent to lose a child, to never have another hug. The idea of losing anyone I know and love fills me with so much dread as it is... and like I said, I'm not even an actual parent. The thing is... life can end in a moment.
What will I remember from today, a day when 20 elementary children were shot to death in their classroom? I will remember to say a kind word of encouragement - to do an act of service - to do something to remind those I love that I really do love them. Most of all, I will remember to give a hug, and to give it like it may be the last even though I will pray for many many more.