Free Hugs

I hope that you have been able to surrender. I hope you are wrapped in a warm blanket, like mom used to do for us. I hope you were wrong, and that there is a God, or some higher power, and I hope they are taking care of you, even though you spent a good bit of time rolling your eyes at the suggestion of their very existence. I hope all of the pain – the sadness, the anger, the loneliness, the fear, the self doubt, the self loathing – has wafted up off of you. I hope you watched it float away and then POOF! disappear in a cloud of dust, and I hope it made you smile. I hope your heart felt full in that moment and that at it remains full, and will remain full for whatever amount of time you will be wherever you are, which I’m guessing is forever, but I don’t know, because I don’t know where you are.I remember that dream. You standing waist deep in the water with a big grin on your face. You were ready to go wherever you were going next, you were looking forward to it, but you wanted to stop by first to let me know you were okay. I’m glad I have that dream, that vision of you with that smile, but it’s been nearly a year and I wish you’d stop by again.

We just passed the one year mark of the day we went to the party in San Jose at Amy’s house. You were so nervous about going, you were so thankful I went with you. Your hair was in what I called your “depression ponytail” and we laughed. I said, ‘Let me do your hair’ and you said, ‘There is nothing you can do with it.’ But there was. We stood in front of the mirror and I took out that God awful scrunchie you insisted upon wearing and brushed your hair. I could see your face, exaggerated grimaces as though I was hurting you and we laughed because we both knew I wasn’t. I put your hair in a low bun and left a wisp hanging down along the side of your face and you smiled and said ‘Thank you Leah’ with an unbearable amount of pain in your voice. I couldn’t take your pain so I blew it off with a high-pitched ‘Oh sure.’ You probably actually would have preferred a big hug, but I’m certain you saw my discomfort so you let it go. There could have been so much love and comfort and peace in that moment, but I couldn’t face your pain, so I turned away with an ‘Oh sure.’ As if to say, ‘It was no big deal,’ but it was. Maybe not to me, but it was to you, and I should have been able to handle that.

Since that time I have vowed to be more open hearted, but I’m not sure I have been. I was rude to the Starbucks barista today for asking me “What else can I get you?” instead of “Can I get you anything else?” Normally this kind of corporate mind play elicits only an eye roll from me and I say “Nothing” but today I said, “I’m sorry, did you just ask what else you can get me?” he said “Yes.” I said, “Did I give the impression I wanted something else?” He snapped “4.25 at the window please,” and then probably went to spit in my drink.

Kelly and I didn’t have a mirror for her to see the bun so I took a picture of it and showed her. She loved it. I have that picture in a locket to remind me to be open hearted and to give people what they need if I can, and to ask for what I need, if I can. Sometimes I wear it, but most days I purposely look right past it when I’m getting dressed because I’m not sure I have the energy to live up to it. But I try. I took a guy with a “FREE HUGS” sign up on his offer on the Santa Monica Pier but he seemed sort of put off by it. I went in for a real hug, the kind I would be doling out if I were standing on the Santa Monica Pier holding up a FREE HUGS sign, but I got sort of a wet noodle response. Poor guy. I must have frightened him. He had no idea that a big load of grief and sadness was coming at him. In those moments I wonder if Kelly is watching. I don’t really believe she is but I do know she would have laughed if she was there.

I hope you are at peace, but the fact that I can’t ask you if you are makes me feel stuck. I’m not sure how to move on without knowing you are okay and my mind gets jumbled. The other morning I was whisking eggs and I surprised myself with the thought “Those poor eggs” because, I realized, that’s how my mind feels when I try to understand where you are and how you are and what the hell just (a year ago now…) happened. But, then I remember that dream and your smile while you stood it the water up to your waist, wearing your down jacket, and I think you gave me my answer. I just need to be open hearted enough to believe it.


4 thoughts on “Free Hugs

  1. Hi Leah,That was a really real post, thanks.  I was thinking about Kelly at exactly 4:17 pm today (I am in Ohio at my mom’s, that would have been 1:17 pm CA time).  Anyhoo, thanks for that.  I remember the party because it was the last time I saw her.  I had visited her the month before, but I remember her that night.  I hugged her and teased her because she was so sweaty, but I also knew that those situations sometimes made her uneasy.   Debby


    1. She was so happy you came to visit her. She was so excited to show you the fruit sheds in Loomis. It meant so much to her that you made the trek up this way for a visit. I hope we can talk soon. Have a nice time in Ohio. I think you know my grandparents were from Ohio so maybe you thought of Kelly because she and my grandma we’re passing through saying Hello!


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