The other day I heard from a friend that she was meeting an old college pal of mine later that day. She messaged me later to say she had gotten The Big Bear Hug from him and I just had to smile.
When I was in college, I was pretty much a screw up with a capital S. My GPA was lower than my blood alcohol content throughout most of the semester, and needless to say, I wasn't invited back. I made some really bad choices during that time, and when I look back, I do so with
a lot some embarrassment and a great deal of regret.
The only good thing out of it all? I made some really, really fantastic friendships that have stood the test of time. I remain great friends with my old roommate, and there is a group of us that get together annually to 'relive' the old days (albeit with a lot less fanfare and drunkenness than the days of old).
My friend Mitch is a Big Bear Hug giver. He is a really tall guy, and he will wrap his arms around you and lift your feet off the ground when he gives you the hug. It doesn't matter if he just saw you yesterday, or if it has been years - you will still get the hug. It is seriously one of my most favorite things in the world - and this is why.
When I was making bad choices and feeling rotten about myself, Mitch would arrive and give me that great big bear hug, lifting me off the ground all the while laughing in my ear. Then he would put me down, and look at me with a great big smile and his twinkling eyes, and somehow . . . things just seemed better. He didn't care that I made mistakes (that he let on anyways), he accepted me for what he believed me to be . . . a good person. He stood by me when times were tough, and celebrated with me when things were great. There were days when the last thing I wanted was to be touched by anyone - but along would come Mitch, and up I would go whether I liked it or not. His enthusiasm was contagious - and soon I would be smiling and laughing too. He may not realize it, but his hugs got me through some really nasty stuff - and to this day when I'm feeling sad or alone, I simply conjure up the memory of his hug, and I can't help but smile.
We have remained friends since those days long ago, and every year I look forward to the evening we get together because I know I will once again be lifted off my feet, see those sparkling eyes, and hear that glorious laughter. It is a gift, and I treasure it.
Someday, I hope my children will have a 'Mitch' in their life. Someone who will lift them up when their spirits are down, and share their joy when things are wonderful. I hope they are as lucky as I have been.
Love you Mitch!