As a young child, I had a pen pal. Her name was Leonie and she lived in Australia. I don't remember exactly how old I was, third, maybe fourth grade? Our class had written letters to her class and then they wrote back to us. Our words traveled across oceans par avian and while Leonie and I never actually met, we formed quite a friendship and continued to correspond for several years.
To a kid who had barely traveled outside of her home state, it was all very enchanting to think that I was speaking to someone who was quite literally halfway around the world and had become friends with a person that I had never met.
And quiet possibly would never, ever meet.
Of course, that notion seems quaint today. With the advent of social media I think it's safe to say that just about everyone has a friend or two who they have never actually met in real life, or IRL, as they say.
Relationships are built and carried out in a completely virtual state.
There is no breaking of bread, hearty pats on the back or handshakes.
You can still get hugged.
Warm and wonderful and supportive hugs, that are just as comforting as physical ones, despite the the miles between between friends.
A couple of years ago, I was going through a rough patch. I didn't want to talk about it too much. I dealt with it by putting one foot in front of the other and writing about it.
But not about it.
My posts were nuanced. They were about scary months and unexpected journeys. Not my usual DIY fare.
Most people never picked up on it.
However, my friend Nancy, sent me a simple comment and gently asked if I was ok. She had sensed a tone and wanted me to know that if I ever needed to chat she was there. She didn't push, she didn't pry, she simply offered an ear and closed her note with Hugs, Nancy.
She always signed off that way, but until that day, I never really thought anything about it. I mean, I sign off with a smile, others use an xo, I just wrote it off as her preferred signature.
Suddenly, it felt like so much more.
As the weeks went on, I opened up a little to her, without disclosing details, I emailed her and she emailed back. She sent the sweetest messages and always seemed to know exactly what to say and when to say it. Plus her notes always seemed to arrive on days when I had a moment of weak faith.
Emails with hugs.
When the storm had passed, I sent Nancy an email, thanking her for her support and friendship, explaining just how much her correspondence had meant to me, but somehow it just didn't feel like enough.
What I wanted to send her was a hug of my own.
The problem was, I had no idea how to send mine through the mail and not even par avian could help me this time.
I thought about her likes, her interests, her own work as a devotional writer, but nothing jumped out at me no matter how hard I tried.
Then one day, we took the kids to the book store. On a whim I walked through the gift section, with Nancy in mind, and there on the table was a devotional book entitled Hugs. I peeked and tucked inside were 365 days of hugs. In words, from one writer to another. It was perfect.
Divine intervention no doubt.
I was so smitten, I was going to buy a copy for myself, but the kids wanted coffee and I got distracted, so I left with just one copy for Nancy, content with my gift.
She was super gracious when she received her hug and I was super happy knowing that I was able to finally, hug her back.
She spoke so highly of the book, I decided that I should go back and get my own. Well, guess what? Just a few days later it was already totally sold out. Sold out in the store, sold out online, checked out at the library.
Occasionally, over the last year, I have checked the book store again without any luck and by the time I got home to order online...well, out of sight, out of mind.
Then one day, just a few weeks ago, I received an email from Nancy. Turns out, she was the lucky recipient of another new copy of Hugs this holiday season.
She's apparently very huggable.
Anyway, she was wondering if I was ever able to find a copy and if not, would I like one? My mouth dropped open. I read the email to my husband and we both laughed.
You see, my husband knows about my friendship with Nancy. In fact, he often refers to her as my guardian angel, as she has helped to reaffirm my faith, she always pops up with what I need, just when I need it and because we have never met in real life.
He has actually questioned her very existence, when trying to prove his point.
I show him her blog, her photo and her emails. His response is alway the same.
"But have you ever actually met her?"
"Well, not in person, but..."
"And I bet you never will."
And he's probably right, but not because she has wings. Although I will not dispute that she is an angel.
It's really a lot more mundane than that. I live on one coast, she on the other. I am not big on flying and have kids to mind, she seems pretty content in her newly built cottage with her charming artist husband and quiet country life.
But that doesn't mean we can't exchange hugs on a regular basis.
Real, genuine, meaningful hugs.
Thank you, Nancy. ❤
Have you been hugged today?
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Sharing today: Between Naps On The Porch