In a sleeping bag on a dirt patch in the middle of the desert in southern California I cried, experiencing the happiest and saddest moments of my life simultaneously. Before arriving to this place where I’d climb to a higher state, I was told I needed an intention before finding warmth in my sleeping bag. “I want to know what real love feels like,” I thought, hoping I wouldn’t have to share that with the group. I didn’t.
Every painful moment in my life, I remember wanting nothing but my mother to hug me, and maybe an aspirin (later, a Percocet). Every time I cried for something as simple as another sandwich as a kid, or every time I fell on a sidewalk in Detroit or Charlottesville and skinned my knees, I ran to her, or tried to indirectly get her attention if friends were watching, hoping she’d run over and check on me. Even now, when I get something as small as a headache, I think about calling my mother, knowing she’ll go overboard with a cure, starting with telling me to go to the doctor just in case it’s more than just a headache. For me, though, calling her and hearing her voice is a way to get a hug from thousands of miles away. In that sleeping back on the dirt patch in the middle of the desert in southern California I cried, realizing real love is
like a mother’s hug. And my mother appeared (clearly my mind was on something different) and hugged me, and I broke down. The happiest.
The saddest. When my mother hugged me and I realized this the purest form of love a human could experience, I thought about my friends and the beautiful people I’ve met who no longer have a mother to hug them, to offer them solace, and affirmation.
I cried more, not knowing how to help them, wanting to hug them, but knowing my hug wouldn’t be nearly enough. Maybe my mother could hug them, too. Maybe when they’re sick, she can make them chicken noodle soup and toast and pour a glass of room temperature ginger ale, and they could lay up and watch The Flintstones like I did as a kid. I’ll hug them anyway and hope they feel the true love I have for them.
There are women in this world, though, who love me and hug me when I can’t get to Charlottesville, and when my mother can’t get to me. Women who call me to check on me, and hug me, and make sure I’m eating. Through them, I realize motherhood is more an attitude than anything. One of my most necessary friends hugged me once in Walmart and changed my life. If we realize that, and we’re fortunate enough to be surrounded by these beautiful women, we realize a mother’s hug is never more than a short walk away.
One of the most amazing things to witness as a father, at least for me, is to spend time with The Kid and see how often he talks about his mother. How often he wants to call her just to see what she’s doing, and to say goodnight, and sometimes just to say “I love you.”
Happy Mother’s Day, Doreen Wells, and all the women in my life who’ve hugged me.